A Story of Adoption, Identity, and the Meaning of Family
by Erika Hayasaki
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Pub Date 11 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 05 Dec 2023
An NPR Best Book of 2022
An incredible, deeply reported story of identical twins Isabella and Hà, born in Viêt Nam and raised on opposite sides of the world, each knowing little about the other’s existence until they were reunited as teenagers, against all odds.
“Stirring and unforgettable—a breathtaking adoption saga like no other.” —Robert Kolker
It was 1998 in Nha Trang, Việt Nam, and Liên struggled to care for her newborn twin girls. Hà was taken in by Liên’s sister, and she grew up in a rural village with her aunt, going to school and playing outside with the neighbors. They had sporadic electricity and frequent monsoons. Hà’s twin sister, Loan, was adopted by a wealthy, white American family who renamed her Isabella. Isabella grew up in the suburbs of Chicago with a nonbiological sister, Olivia, also adopted from Việt Nam. Isabella and Olivia attended a predominantly white Catholic school, played soccer, and prepared for college.
But when Isabella’s adoptive mother learned of her biological twin back in Việt Nam, all of their lives changed forever. Award-winning journalist Erika Hayasaki spent years and hundreds of hours interviewing each of the birth and adoptive family members. She brings the girls’ experiences to life on the page, told from their own perspectives, challenging conceptions about adoption and what it means to give a child a good life. Hayasaki contextualizes the sisters’ experiences with the fascinating and often sinister history of twin studies, intercountry and transracial adoption, and the nature-versus-nurture debate, as well as the latest scholarship and conversation surrounding adoption today, especially among adoptees.
For readers of All You Can Ever Know and American Baby, Somewhere Sisters is a richly textured, moving story of sisterhood and coming of age, told through the remarkable lives of young women who have redefined the meaning of family for themselves.