Book Review: "Reclaiming Lily" by Patti Lacy

Summary from A storm the size of Texas brews when Gloria Powell and Kai Chang meet in a Dallas hotel. They have come to discuss the future of Lily, the daughter Gloria adopted from China and the sister Kai hopes to reclaim. Kai is a doctor who had to give up her little sister during the Cultural Revolution and has since discovered that an inherited genetic defect may be waiting to fatally strike Lily. Gloria's relationship with her daughter is tattered and strained, and the arrival of Kai, despite the woman's apparent good intentions, makes Gloria fearful. Gloria longs to restore her relationship with Lily, but in the wake of this potentially devastating diagnosis, is Kai an answer to prayer...or will her arrival force Gloria to sacrifice more than she ever imagined?

My first thought when I started reading this book was I am so happy that Bethany House released two books on the same day that both have Asian characters in them. It's actually a bit sad that I'm so excited about this which goes to show what an anomaly Asians (or most POC characters in general) are in Christian fiction. I'm hoping that will change one day and since Bethany House is one of the major publishers in the Christian market hopefully this shows that they are leading the way.

The book deals with several issues: adoption, health issues, cultural issues and family issues. The main focus of the story is on three women all connected to each other: Gloria adopted Joy who is the biological sister of Kai. Joy and Kai were both born in China during the years of the Cultural Revolution in China. They've been reunited but things aren't so happy as Joy is rebellious and a health scare looms over everyone.

I will admit that there were times when I got a bit annoyed with Gloria. I felt that she just didn't understand Joy at all. It almost seems like she couldn't understand Joy's insecurities about being Asian in a mainly white community and didn't try to help her learn about her background and culture. To be honest, Gloria seems quite selfish at times because she was more worried about herself and what others thought about her. I understand that she had been hurt in the past by those she loved but she often came across as rude, arrogant and refusing to understand.

I really liked reading the story from Kai's point of view. Lacy does not make her into a stereotypical foreigner and treats her character with respect and graciousness. Kai is intent on keeping family honor and duty but it's also clear that she's searching for something else. I could very much relate with Joy and her feelings of insecurity over her ethnicity. Some of the things she said about how she looked and felt are things that have come out of my own mouth.

This is one of the few books in Christian fiction I've read that deals with the cultural revolution and communist China. Most books that do feature Chinese characters tend to be set in earlier times when foreigners were missionaries and Asians were exotic. This book instead shows how life was like for those who living in the country during the time period and the suffering that they faced when they went against the ideas of the government.

The only thing that I had any problems with was the cover of the book. I'm just a little bit confused by it. Obviously since the white woman on the front is supposed to be Gloria. I'm assuming that the Asian girl is supposed to be Joy. I'm just wondering why Kai is not featured on the book, why Gloria's presence is so huge when her story is only 1/3 of the book and why Joy is portrayed as so young. My only thought is that this is supposed to be Gloria and Joy when they first met? It just doesn't seem right to leave Kai off the cover.

Except for this minor bit, I really enjoyed this book. As I said, I was thrilled that there are Asian characters in the story. Plus, it's a well written and very intriguing story. There's a lot to mull over while and after reading, both regarding practical, cultural and faith issues. This is actually my first book of Lacy's that I've read. I have her others so I really need to go back and read them now.

Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy is published by Bethany House (2011)

This ARC was provided for a blog tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


  1. Deborah, I'm so glad you read "Reclaiming Lily." One of the joys of my life was experiencing China for 17 glorious days in preparation for writing Lily.

    I am so grateful to Bethany for taking an interest in this story. Sarah Long, my editor, lived in China and loves its people and the country!!!

    You asked thoughtful, provocative questions about my novel, especially the cover design. The options I submitted to the publishing house for consideration featured Kai prominently on the cover. As you probably know, we writers do not have final say re design aspects. I was told by someone who knows: "Even Stephen King doesn't have cover rights."

    In my heart and, as I believe you discovered, in my writing, Kai is the primary heroine. You make great points about Gloria. I actually wanted to portray Gloria in a negative light to show a sad reality and let God "grow" her.
    Maybe I went too far with ole Gloria and her selfishness. Remember, she had suffered a terrible trauma as a child...

    It would thrill me to have you read my other books!!!!
    Deborah, thanks for the time you invested in this work.

  2. Anonymous10:01 AM

    I'm very interested in reading this book. We have two nieces who were adopted from China and I know that they and their mother have struggled with their place in a very different sort of society. I think they seem well adjusted, but their mom has worried about it and worked hard to keep their culture alive to them.

    Very nice review! It really drew me in.

  3. Thanks, Kay! Love seeing ya here and hope you do give claim "Reclaiming Lily" as one of your own :)


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