In Adoption, an odd and yet remarkable novel of genetics and test tube engineering, Victoria I. Sullivan has put together a story of extremes. Her characters leap off the pages, and her background lends credence to the potential of the story.
Dr. Val Smythe is a botanist who suddenly becomes the keeper of an intelligent six-year-old girl. Yet Mary Solven is anything but normal. She is already the size of a full-grown adult and just as capable. Yet she is a child in many of the ways that matter; she still needs her mother. However, her mother has just died, and she has instructed Mary to relay information and papers to Val, and let Val also know that she is now Mary’s trustee.
At first, Val is mortified; she is not ready to be a mother, but worse, the story makes no sense. Mary is not a child. To Val it appears more than obvious. Yet she has the proof, and she is so childlike in many ways. As Val tries to find more background, she runs into roadblocks at every turn.
Thinking Mary is one of a kind, Val traces her birth to a fertility clinic, where the main scientist is also Mary’s father. Messing with genetics and using both plant and human DNA and characteristics, he has produced a child of strange proportions. What she finds is that not only is Mary a part of this genetic research, but that he has been birthing a small army with the same genes.
Trying to find a way to live in the world as it is, Mary has had to grow up fast. When she meets others like herself, they decide to find a home unique to them. For the most part, they are a loving and peaceful group, but it only takes one man, angry and bitter, to bring their house of cards down.
Now the government is involved, sterilization becomes the key to keeping them under control. As with any difference, there is discrimination, but it is worse because it goes all the way to the top and also topples into church doctrine. Will Val be able to save this group of children, can they live in peace?
In Adoption, Victoria I. Sullivan has used her background in science to put together a story of fear and discrimination, based on genetics. She winds the fabric of Botany into the story of human genetics and comes up with a possibility of an abnormal growth cycle complete with regeneration. It is an intensive book with depth and information, well researched to create believability.
Her characters are interesting, with their unique qualities and appearance, because they are still children regardless of their size and abilities, they are also still very immature and childlike. It is a story of challenges faced when others are afraid of the differences they do not understand. The societies involved bring to mind the narrow-mindedness of the Salem witch trials, where lack of understanding fanned the flames of fear, creating a frenzy of destruction.
Adoption is a story of extremes. It would be an interesting title for reading groups, adding a different type of spice to their discussion.