The Reluctant Cuckoo by Cathy Donald

Written by TBBManiacSian

For Hannah, born from Nandi, and adopted by Patrick and Fiona, it is not so easy to work out who she really is. Is she the privileged daughter of an upper middle class British couple or is she an unwanted South African child who needed an adoptive family? How can she reconcile these two personas, especially when she looks so different from her adoptive parents? In her questioning mind, she appears to be not white enough for Britain, but not black enough for Africa. As she grows older, her identity issues become greater until they threaten to engulf her.


Her parents, wanting to be faithful to a promise they made to her birth mother, but also desperately frightened of losing their child to her birth heritage, are not forthcoming when it comes to answering her questions. This makes her feel she can’t trust them and alienates her further. It is only when she re-establishes a connection with the country of her birth that Hannah starts to work through the issues that trouble her in her search to find the peace that appears to be so elusive.

Firstly let’s discuss the book because this time I had physical copy as published by Kwarts Publishers. The book itself is great quality in terms of binding; cover and page quality. The text is will laid out and the font easy to read. Kwarts Publisher’s did a good job with this one. I thought the picture on the cover was particularly intriguing because it is symbolic. The nest with its eggs could be considered a place of safety and homeliness. The African baby hand reaching out for the white hand combined with the reluctant reminds me of when a fledgling bird falls from a nest and is taken in by kindness by people who try and give it a fighting chance. It is also symbolic to me of the strength of a mother’s love because I know the book is based in South Africa before I open it and race in my country is such a major factor – from all races. So for a mother of one race to be reaching for a child of another race shows me the unconditional love a mother has for a child; because she sees her child and that is all.

 Moving onto the story; it certainly wasn’t exactly what I was expecting from Donald. Firstly because I was expecting very little back story in the beginning because normal it is revealed during character development however Donald’s story takes on a path of generational character development. From a mother’s development; to a child’s development to an adopted child’s development on one side and a couple’s development on the other side progressing from individuals; to a couple to a family. Donald also doesn’t shy away from introducing just the right amount of a catalyst for the character’s to develop and her approach is the reason I like it. I love a book that has a realistic approach to their character’s; one where you can clearly see how the character went from A to B and resulted in C; D and E while still holding a reader’s attention. I hate when I have to flip back through a book to double check something because the story doesn’t make sense.  Donald however achieves this flawlessly and her story is not only easy to read but is also really interesting because it gives a realistic look into what must go through so many adopted children’s minds; especially when they are from a completely different culture; race or country from their parents.

Something that was very interesting to me from a South African’s perspective is Donald’s excellent grasp on the IsiXhosa culture because often it is hard to get the correct principles of the culture across but Donald has clearly done an excellent amount of research into the culture to ensure that her story had the correct flow.

I guess the only thing that got to me about this book was that it was a rather emotional journey that really touched my heart but the ending for me was lacking more closure. I feel that if an author is going to take you on a whirlwind of emotions; there should be more detail in the closure. I’m not one for more abrupt resolutions although it does still work in the book.

I recommend this book.

Review Rating: 5/5

More Information:

Published By: Kwarts Publishers

Published Date: October 2nd; 2016

Genre:  Family & Parents / Adoption

Author and purchase information available on Website Review.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: