Fiction Elaine Kagan Somebody's Baby

ISBN 13: 9780061014062

Somebody's Baby

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9780061014062: Somebody's Baby

It Was Love At First Sight.

He was a bad boy, an irresistible ex-con from the wrong side of the tracks. She was a nice middle-class Jewish girl--smart and quiet, prettier than she even knew. Will and Jenny shared a passion that defied their backgrounds, and when Jenny got pregnant, they planned to elope. But on the big day something went terribly wrong...and after the baby was born, Jenny gave her up for adoption, to a nice couple who called her Claudia and raised her as their own.

Now Claudia is all grown up. While she loves her adoptive parents, she is haunted by dreams of her "other mother." Curious to discover the truth, Claudia begins a search that will lead her to the avenues of Manhattan and the mountains of California--to a man and woman separated by fate and time whose love for each other still burns strong...

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About the Author:

Elaine Kagan is an actress and writer who has appeared in films and television series, including Traffic, Goodfellas, Absolute Power, ER, and Alias. She is the author of four previous, critically praised novels, The Girls, Blue Heaven, Somebody's Baby, and No Good-Byes. She lives in Los Angeles, where she is currently at work on her next novel and a screenplay.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

He had a tattoo. Maybe that isn't where to start, but what difference does it make where you start? I was rocked by the tattoo. It wasn't the first naked boy's chest I had seen, but it was certainly the first tattoo. An eagle, a large majestic blue eagle, majestic even with his wings closed, his head turned so you could see his kingly splendor in full profile. An eagle in repose, I said. I take that back: I didn't say it, I just thought it; I didn't say anything. There was just the shock of the eagle on the upper left side of his chest, a blue eagle under my fingertips. There was another tattoo on his right arm, a rose and leaves in a vine pattern that wound around a cross, and then another tattoo that said Mother, and then there were the letters that spelled out lets fuck, one letter each carved upside down on his toes. Four letters on four toes on the left foot and four letters on four toes on the right, no apostrophe. Those I didn't find out about until much later. I also found out later that he had carved those letters into his own toes when he was in jail.

Jail.

Not a word in my vocabulary. Jewish girls didn't know from jail then. Even Gentile girls didn't know from jail. In my neighborhood in 1959 in Kansas City, nobody knew from jail. They didn't even know from tattoos, much less jail. I had never spoken to anyone like him, not ever in my life, except for polite talk, hi and thank-you talk, but not a conversation. I really didn't have conversations with those people, as my mother would have said, with her lips in a thin line and her chin at a particular angle. After all, I was a privileged daughter of the upper middle class. Jenny Jaffe, the sixteen -year-old only child of Esther and Mose Jaffe, five feet nine inches tall, about a hundred and twenty pounds, skinny and plain, with unruly brown hair pulled high and tight up into a ponytail in the hopes that that might make it straighter, pale skin and brown eyes. Loafers and stitched-down pleats and circle pins: the works. A midwest Jewish teenage girl, a quiet girl, one who hardly made a peep about anything, one who minded her p's and q's, not particularly popular, not particularly unpopular, just smack-dab in the middle of her senior year of high school-- no edge, not bitter, just plain. The only thing different about me was that I thought I knew what I wanted, I had a dream. Not anything grand like Martin Luther King's, not anything that could change the course of mankind, just a little Jenny Jaffe dream. Of course, I had no idea how to achieve the dream, but that didn't seem to matter; even a dream without a plan made me different. Not too many people know what they want when they're teenagers -- they didn't in 1959 and they still don't now-but I was sixteen and I had known what I wanted since I could stand. To be a dancer. A real one. Esther and Mose thought that their only child thinking she could be a dancer was a joke.

"Who goes all the way from Kansas City to New York and makes it? Don't be silly-you'll get lost in the shuffle there. You'll go away to college, and you'll learn to be something else."

I hadn't let either of my parents see me dance for years, not since I was a fledgling ballerina in a pink tutu at dancing school, the gawky big one with the stick legs in the back. "My daughter the ugly duckling" -- my mother's hiss of a whisper and my father's quiet laugh in the dark recital hall-and from that time on, I never let them see me dance. I kept my dream tucked away inside me. Maybe if it hadn't all happened, I never would have gone to New York and become a dancer. I would have scrapped the dream, run away with Will in the '50 blue Mercury, and danced only with him, in parking lots outside of country bars by the side of the road. But then you could also spend the rest of your life having a discussion about what is fate and what is your destiny and what has been written and what you can change. Nothing, if you ask me.

He was working at the Texaco at Seventy-fifth and Wornall, pumping gas into my fiiends' parents' cars; he actually stared at me while he washed the windshield of my mother's powder-blue Oldsmobile. I turned my eyes away and pretended to look for something in my purse. Then he was at Joe's, flipping hamburgers and washing greasy spoons-which was a joke, he added, smiling at my friend Sherry and me as he took the dishes off the table in the next booth. When he smiled, could it be that his eyes got bluer? Was that possible? And then twice I saw him working at the King Louie Bowling Lanes on State Line, renting bowling shoes to Friday and Saturday night dates. "Eight, right?" he said, looking at my feet, and I didn't answer him, and Mic Bowen said, "Yeah, right, eight," and took the shoes.

I was a senior at Southwest High School. He was an "I don't know what." I didn't know if he'd finished high school, I didn't even know if he'd ever gone. He was older than me, but I didn't know by how much-maybe just a few years older in numbers but light-years in life. William Cole McDonald. It was later that I learned his full name; at first I only knew Will because it was stitched in red over the pocket of his Texaco blue shirt.

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