I Love You Like Crazy Cakes (Review)

I love you like crazy cakes book review

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes

 
Authors: Rose Lewis, Jane Dyer (illustrator)

 
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

 
Plot Summary:

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes tells the story of a baby in China and a woman in the United States who become connected to each other through the process of international adoption. The book is told in first person through the prospective of the adoptive mother as if she is telling her child about the initial steps she went through to adopt her new daughter. The story ends when the two come back to the United States from China.

Praise:

The first thing a potential reader would notice about this book are the darling water color illustrations by Jane Dyer. The warm colors and gentle strokes add to the book’s safe and cozy mood. The soft words and flowing sentence structure throughout the pages make it a soothing read.

The book ends with the adoptive mother holding the daughter and crying. She explains that “the tears were for your Chinese mother, who could not keep you. I wanted her to know that we would always remember her.” Ending the book in this way “humanizes” the birthmother and intimates that even though the she cannot physically be with them, her presence in their family will remain. This also allows the adoptive child to know that it is alright to keep both mothers in her heart.

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Criticism:

When describing the children in the orphanage Lewis writes, “the girls had nannies to take care of them, but each was missing something – a mother.” This is essential to the authors story as a single woman, but she completely ignores fathers, both biological or adoptive, in this book.

The adoptive mother falsely depicts the adoption process to her daughter. In the story, it takes the mother only months to receive her daughter’s referral picture. Then only “a few weeks later,” she is already on her way to China. This time frame may have been accurate for the earliest adoptions from China, but currently the process can take up to five years. The author also simplifies the adoption process by saying, “I wrote a letter to the officials in China and asked if I could adopt one of the babies. . . I received a letter with a picture . . . and boarded a plane for the very long trip to China.” While in a children’s book it may be unnecessary to include all of the financial transactions, background checks, interviews and other paperwork involved in the adoption process, providing an overly simplistic view of the process is completely inaccurate. This simplification also leaves a major ambiguity in the permanency of adoption. The adoptive mother says, “The people in China said I could adopt you if I promised to take good care of you,” mentioning no other necessities. If this promise is the only requirement for an adoptive parent, this book may leave an adopted child reader unclear whether or not they could be adopted again by someone else who “promised to take good care” of them.

The next obvious ambiguity is when Lewis says, “I was so happy that I cried the moment I took you in my arms. . . you cried, too.” You cried, too – also of happiness? Certainly not! Though the adoption day is one of great excitement for adoptive parents, this is a traumatic day for the adoptee, signifying the end of their life in the only country he/she knows. The author fails to make this distinction between the reasons for these tears.

There are some slightly uncomfortable things said once the authors has taken her daughter back to the hotel. She sat her “down on the bed to get a good look” at the girl. This makes it sound like she’s checking over this purchase she just made, looking for any defects. This idea of commodification is furthered when the author says “[her] rosy cheeks made [her] look like a soft, pink doll.” Having the aforementioned statements comparing the girl to a doll, the line “I put silly hats on you and took your picture” can be read as objectifying the daughter, like playing dress-up with her new “China doll.” By saying, “I kissed your little hands and tiny feet a hundred times” and “I stared at you while you napped,” the author meant for these to be sweet and doting ways of showing her love for her new daughter, but it carries a creepy connotation of further objectifying the little girl.

Once Lewis brings her daughter to the United States, she describes the girl discovering her new room. Lewis says, “[she] smiled as if to say, “I’m home.” Being in a new place, surrounded by new people and smells would hardly feel like home. This is unrealistic because though that place will eventually become her home, it is not yet. By thinking a child would feel immediately at home, an adoptive parent could accidentally ignore some transitional behaviors or other emotions due to the number of changes in such a short time span.

Conclusion:

While this book isn’t particularly offensive, it isn’t very substantive either. There are a number of ineffective ideas and only one point that really jumps out as extremely positive. All of the ambiguities or falsely simplified ideas in this book mean that if one were to read this book to their child there would need to be some points of clarification along the way. The beautiful illustrations and the inclusion of the birthmother at the end are the redeeming factors for this book. Overall, the message told is one of love for the child, China, and the birthmother. This book is obviously directed toward a very young audience (Amazon recommends 3 -6 years of age) and could be a springboard into the topic of adoption. Further supplementary works will definitely be required.

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8 responses to “I Love You Like Crazy Cakes (Review)

  1. “I Love You Like Crazy Cakes” isn’t the only book that leaves out birthfathers and/or adoptive fathers. I understand the reality that there are many single adoptive moms so the focus is on motherhood. But, I’m one of many active adoptive fathers. We tends to be pushed aside for various reasons – some legitimate others not. And, what about birthfathers? It’s not all about birthmothers.

  2. Wow this was quite a harsh critique! Coming from a single mom who adopted both of her girls from China in both 2003 and 2007. Let me say that while there is some level of truth in each of your criticisms I feel like it was holding up the work of a 5 year old and saying look at this poor penmanship and ugle artwork! Consider the audience. This book was written for, small children who are only begining to understand the basic concepts of adoption. Is it either realistic or necessary to explain to them that I had to go to the bank and stash away every spare penny I earned into savings bonds and cash out all equity in my home to afford their adoptions? Would it be appropriate for me to tell them that b/c I was 29 when I started the process and China had laws about age restrictions when you adopt and restrictions about my income, my health, my sexual orientation, about numerous other factors that quite frankly appaul me,…numerous hoops…that I had to wait for over a year before I could even get a slot as a quota single person to adopt. I do not have a husband. And while I would love for my girls to have an earthly father…one with skin on…I do believe that God placed me in their lives and them in mine. And he in fact is their father and creator. And as a single parent there have not been many books out there about single parents adopting so for me it was a real blessing to find this book! So while the simplistic version of going to China in a short time bringing her home is not completely realistic, back in 2002 it wasn’t completely inaccurate. If you want a book to launder all of your woes of the perils of adoption…a book for children is not the place.

    • Whoa! Talk about harsh critique, your comments to the blogger’s review of this book veered into the personal tales of woe involved in your adoption experiences. Why were you appalled when you were thoroughly investigated before being allowed to adopt? When children are being removed from their birth countries, the very least that should be done is to ascertain to the extent possible that they will be entering stable homes with a parent or parents who are financially, emotionally, and physically able to care for them adequately. Also, you complain that you had to wait for a slot as a single parent. Are you aware of the reality in China, Korea and many other countries that as a single mother, you could be shamed, ostracized, and/or coerced into relinquishing a child that you very much want? And, you are parenting two, yes two, children from China when many families had to give up their child because of the one child policy,a child they may have desperately wanted to keep.Finally, you believe that God placed them in your lives and them in yours.Please be careful when offering supernatural explanations for human caused problems and solutions.This kind of rhetoric can make it difficult for children growing up who then wonder what kind of God would have allowed them to be separated from their first families and country of birth. Maybe they will wonder why God helped you to have enough money to adopt while not providing their parents with enough to pay the fine for a second birth.

  3. Pingback: The Real Queen of Books – A Mother’s Day Tribute | Red Thread Broken·

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