Just how far can our roots connect us to our past, how does our DNA shape us, and how far is the length of a string? In the book, The Length of a String, by Elissa Brent Weissman, we meet Imani, a Jewish girl who’s nearing her bat mitzvah. She knows what gift she wants: the chance to find her birth family. Living as a person of color in a predominantly white community is rough, and Imani wants answers to the questions she has about her birth parents.
When Imani’s grandmother dies, Imani and her brother Jaime are left all her books. While sorting through them, Imani finds an old journal, dating back to the Holocaust times. As she reads through the journal with her best friend Madeline, she finds out that her grandmother’s story is similar to her own and reevaluates what the word “family” truly means.
I quickly found myself falling in love with this story and Imani. Many authors don’t understand that while adoption can bring up hard questions and be the spark for self-discovery, adoption isn’t by definition horrible and depressing. Author Weissman, in my opinion, accurately wrote Imani, who despite having a loving family, wants to know more about her roots, which I closely relate to. This story shows that there’s not always one right way to handle something, but there can be many wrong ways. Finding out who you are isn’t always easy, and what you think you want isn’t always what is needed. This is a book I would highly recommend for both adoptees and non-adoptees. Imani is a great, well-written character, the story is well developed, and the journey to self-discovery is one every person can relate to, even if they are not adopted.