“I had one leg in the East and one leg in the West, and I was, and still am, an outsider to both. Being an outsider is not a guarantee of happiness… Adopted children reading this part can understand , but truly, all children from mixed origins understand this.”
Gabriella Naseem Akhtar van Rij was born in Pakistan and given up for adoption and raised in the Netherlands by Dutch parents who were part of the diplomatic corps. And this is her story of growing up, in a world that became foreign to her both culturally as well as emotionally, and navigating the pain of being of another color, another heritage, in a family that tragically, fell apart six years after adoption.
But in spite of all of this, van Rij does not appear to bitter or resentful. She becomes a survivor and works to make something of herself as she moves into adulthood.
Set against the backdrop of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver as she tells her story to a Dutch journalist, With All My Might is a story that has meaning on various levels. One is the personal level as it relates to van Rij. Another is the challenges and dynamics of an international adoption and the challenges that it brings. A third is the story of cultural tension as van Rij navigates a difficult first marriage in which she feels the heat of prejudice and racism.
van Rij’s story is both poignant and inspirational and those who have been adopted out of another culture and families who have adopted may resonate with it. I applaud her for writing her story as I think that it will serve as a guide to others who have experienced what she has experienced.
While I did enjoy this book and value van Rij’s story, it was at times was a bit rambling. But I rate it a 3 star book, a good book.
I purchased a Nook version of the book via Barnes and Noble. With All My Might was published by We Open Doors Publishing with Smashwords, an online independent eBook publishing company.