Hay’s book is rooted in ample research into this pressing but under-discussed topic as well as her own experience as an NPE herself, someone whose “anger and feelings of helplessness were sometimes overwhelming.” She expects that readers reeling from similar discoveries of their own might be facing similar emotions (a chapter studying portrayals of the NPE experience “in fact and fiction” is titled “When Are You Going to Get Over This?”) A journalist by training, Hay busts myths and common assumptions about NPEs, especially the belief that “only one type of occurrence creates an NPE (an adult consensual encounter) with only one outcome of suitable reaction to an NPE (detached tolerance).” From her research, and the many real-life NPEs she meets, she introduces a host of scenarios and responses, some wrenching, as in the case of NPEs who are coerced by their families to keep their discovery secret.
A hybrid of journalistic investigation, personal memoir, and highly focused source of advice and comfort, Hay’s NPE will resonate with its intended audience, which includes people who know an NPE but aren’t one themselves. Occasional awkward phrasing and a tendency to quote at length make the book at times less inviting than it might have been, but throughout Hay proves an effective journalist and coach.
Takeaway: A skilled journalist offers facts and encouragement to people who have discovered surprises about their biological fathers through DNA testing.
Great for fans of: Libby Copeland’s The Lost Family, Stephen F. Anderson’s A Broken Tree: How DNA Exposed a Family's Secrets
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B+