When what you believe turns out to be a lie, how far will you go for the truth?
"Just go home and pretend it never happened," is the advice given to 17-year-old Selimah as she departs a Los Angeles home for unwed mothers where she's been forced to give up her newborn baby for adoption. It's 1967, the Summer of Love, and outside the cloistered home, Selimah discovers an insurgence is taking place. Backlash to the archaic values that made her a prisoner of love is exploding. So are urban uprisings, college protests, black power, and the anti-war movement. For Selimah and her generation, there is no longer any way (or any reason) to pretend. Joining the revolution, she embarks on a Motown-infused journey to find love, truth, and ultimately her daughter, providing an insightful narrative of the turbulent cultural, social, and political upheavals of the 1960s/70s.
From Los Angeles to Barcelona, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area, and Hawaii, Selimah crossed paths with many of her generation's iconic cultural markers, including the TAMI show, Monterey Pop Festival, Manson family, photographer Gordon Parks, and Motown legend Smokey Robinson. Her 1973 move to New Age mecca San Francisco made her an eyewitness to its most notorious decade, in which heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped, more than 900 locals died at Jonestown, and both the mayor and city's first openly gay supervisor were assassinated. These historic events and people are shown to the reader through the lens of a young woman, whom society regards as an outsider, as she navigates happiness, heartbreak, and death, all to a soul music soundtrack.
Selimah's is also an "everywoman" story of the (often misguided) search for love and acceptance by others and of herself, and the wildernesses she traversed (and survived) that led to insight, maturity, and the truth she was looking for. Profound loss is countered with exquisite joy at her discoveries of soul music, Motown, African dance, and gospel music, and how they are all intertwined.
Her three-year search leading to the 1991 reunion with her adult daughter, and their interview on the Oprah Winfrey show, (available on the author's website) will resonate with family-of-origin seekers. Since advent of the Internet and DNA testing, the dynamics of reunion have extended beyond traditional adoptee/birthmother searches, such as Selimah's, to those of donor-conceived persons and ancestry, The motivations behind and expectations applied to these searches can result in emotional confusion. A free Book Club Reading Guide (PDF), offered on the author's website as a companion resource, provides a path for personal self-examination or small group discussion of this topic, as well as topics of domestic violence, self-esteem, belief, family, friendship, music, and the arts.
A free Cultural Decoder (PDF) to the multicultural tapestry of music, people, and historic events referenced in Since I Lost My Baby is also available from the author's website, selimahnemoy.com
Since I Lost My Baby is an endearing, insightful memoir about the temptations, rebellion, and counterculture of the 1960s/70s, and the power of soul music that brought the author through it.