Book Review: Jennifer by Nandita Puri

Book Name: Jennifer

Author: Nandita Puri

Publisher: Rupa

Genre: Non-fiction

Rating: 4.5/5

Book Blurb: Seattle, Washington, 1990. It was a cold February day when eight-year-old Jennifer ‘Pinky’ Francis stepped on the American soil for the first time, little knowing that her life was to change forever. Her Indian passport contained no last name. Unbeknown to her poor and illiterate parents, she had been illegally trafficked into the US under the garb of adoption by the very people who had been entrusted with her care. What ensues for Jennifer from then on is life in a foreign land where she is thrust into the nightmarish world of foster care, sexual abuse, drugs and crime. But, her heartbreaking story does not end there. Two decades after her so-called adoption, Jennifer is deported to India with no money or contacts. She must start at the very bottom again, building up her life one tiny step at a time. Indeed, Jennifer is not only a representation of the millions of illegal inter-country adoptees, but also a representation of human suffering. Nandita Puri’s brilliant book is an utterly gut-wrenching and unforgettable story of courage and survival.

Review: Jennifer, penned by Nandita Puri is the true story of Jennifer who is a victim of an adoption scandal.

The book is well researched and chronicled carefully. The failures of the administration and the criminal justice system of both the US and India are also well documented.

“It has been nearly a decade since Jennifer has been living in India- the country of her birth, but one that was completely alien to her. She has been nurturing hopes from day one that she is here only temporarily, and that she would leave as soon as her papers were sorted.”

Nandita Puri writes well and tells the story of Jennifer with empathy. Jennifer despite the fact that she has had a tough life does not resent her mother. She smokes weed and sells drugs in order to eke out a living. The story begins with Jennifer being summarily deported to India (a country where she hardly spent any time and cannot relate to).

“I kept having dreams of being raped by my brother…”

The book also delves into the intricacies of the Geneva convention, various laws and administrative aspects all of which interferes with the narrative. It would have been better had all this been omitted with the sole focus on Jennifer’s story. Nevertheless, this is an important story and is an eye opener.

This book raises the issue of child trafficking under the guise of adoption from low-income countries.

A child deserves to be loved and protected but Jennifer is violated by the very same people who are meant to protect her.

This is a sad tale particularly because the end result is a failed individual who as a child had no say in her destiny but given what life threw at her, Jennifer still manages to make something of her life.

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