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You Were Always Mine


You Were Always Mine

In YOU WERE ALWAYS MINE, Christine Pride and Jo Piazza create two very imperfect characters whose interactions are brief but end up changing their lives.

Cinnamon Haynes and Daisy Dunlap meet on a park bench where Cinnamon is eating during her lunch break. They end up sitting on the same bench each Friday and chatting, though neither shares any real-life experiences with the other. But there's a connection made, and this is what leads Daisy to leave her newborn so that Cinnamon will find her. Daisy's hope is that Cinnamon will raise the baby and keep her safe, because Daisy doesn't feel like she is capable of doing that.

"Because of the different perspectives and the trauma in the lives of both women, YOU WERE ALWAYS MINE would be fascinating to discuss in a book club."

What neither woman realizes is that, despite the difference in their skin color, they share more than meets the eye, including a background of neglect. Neither was raised by a mother, and both lost their parents at a young age, raised by uncaring relatives or foster families. Those deficiencies have much to do with where they find themselves at that moment.

Cinnamon has found what she thinks is happiness. She is married to Jayson, who seems to have a lot going for him. He's sweet and determined to "make it," although his mother doesn't really warm up to her. But Cinnamon's embarrassment regarding her upbringing has made her lie to Jayson and everyone in her life about her past. Jayson's mother thought she was a college graduate, an assumption she never corrected. Cinnamon is a career counselor at a local community college; it’s a job that she is completely unqualified for, but she does it well. When Daisy's baby is left in her lap, she feels oddly protective and determined to keep the child.

The problem is that the baby is white, with bright blue eyes, and Cinnamon and her husband are Black. There is no way anyone is going to think that this is Cinnamon's child. Pride and Piazza point out that many white families adopt or foster Black children, but the reverse is almost unheard of. We see the unconscious bias of those who encounter Cinnamon with baby Bluebell, as Cinnamon calls her.

We also hear Daisy's story through letters that she writes using the salutation "Dear You." In it, we learn about her racist grandfather and how she escaped the torment at home with the help of her best friend, Caleb. They had fled to Sibley Bay, a small coastal town, where Caleb found work. The story comes together as we hear from both women and learn about their lives and their dreams.

There is no mystery here except for the book’s very clever title. We assume that it refers to Daisy and the letters she writes to baby Bluebell, telling her that she will always love her and belong to her. But after reading the Epilogue, we realize what it actually signifies. This novel is a love story to birth mothers and adoptive mothers everywhere. It's about unconditional love and how we sometimes need a little luck to turn a horrendous life around. And while we often make our own luck, a bit of help from others can make all the difference.

Because of the different perspectives and the trauma in the lives of both women, YOU WERE ALWAYS MINE would be fascinating to discuss in a book club. The racial aspects of the story combine with a spotlight on the disparity in wealth based primarily on race and how that affects children. Getting support and going to good schools means a lot, and being ignored or belittled can destroy a life. A bit of kindness goes a long way.

Reviewed by Pamela Kramer on June 17, 2023

You Were Always Mine
by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza

  • Publication Date: June 11, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • ISBN-10: 1668005522
  • ISBN-13: 9781668005521