Sunday, 30 October 2011

Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay (and giveaway)

Red Dust Road is about the author Jackie Kay’s search for her birth parents. We read about her childhood and the discoveries she makes along the way such as when she realises for the first time that she and her brother have a different skin colour to their parents. She also tells us the reasons behind wanting to know more about her birth parents right through to when she meets them in person. It’s a journey that takes her to various parts of Scotland, England and Nigeria and is a fast, touching and funny read.

I’ve always been a little fascinated with adoptions; Part of my job involves looking at people’s birth certificates and quite often an adoption certificate passes my way. I always have a look at it (as I’m supposed to do) and wonder a little about the story behind it. So when I spied Red Dust Road I was glad of the opportunity to read one such story. What I found was that sometimes people just have their own reasons for giving their child up for adoption, there doesn’t have to be a great romantic or dramatic story behind it.

The book is not sad or sentimental but is told with great humour (some points had me and my husband laughing out loud) openness and honesty. This isn’t going as compelling or as tragic as other memoirs out there as Jackie was adopted by some wonderful people and had a great childhood, that’s why I liked it. The memoir is able to focus more on the nature/nurture split, 60's/70s Scotland and questions like ‘what if your birth parent doesn’t want contact, is it ok to contact your siblings anyway?’

The book doesn't follow a linear narrative. It moves back and forth which sometimes didn’t quite work for me but overall I enjoyed the descriptions of the places, the people she encountered, the snippets of her childhood and the way the book very much comes across as a tribute to her adoptive parents. Recommended.

I am seven years old. My mum, my brother and I have just watched a cowboy and Indian film. It suddenly occurs to me that the Indians are the same colour as me and my mum is not the same colour as me. I say to my mum, Mummy why aren’t you the same colour as me? My mum says, Because you are adopted. I say, What does adopted mean? My brother scoffs; Don’t you know what adoption means. He’s eating a giant-size bowl of cornflakes. He eats cornflakes for nearly every meal.

Verdict 4/5

Posted by Jess

I have a hardback of this book which has only been read once so if anyone would like it then please leave a comment and I’ll pick someone at random in a week and announce the winner here. I will post anywhere.


  1. I'm not adopted, but find it so fascinating the way people are driven to find their birth parents or siblings - there's just something about genes that can't be denied! I watched a show about people born from donor sperm finding their half siblings and how emotional that was for them, and important for them. Amazing stuff!

  2. This sounds interesting. Strangely, I've seen the cover before but did not know what it was about. I am not adopted, but those kinds of histories are always interesting to me. I would be interested in receiving the book, if postage isn't too much.

  3. Hi Jessica, back from my travels and trying to catch up with all my favourite bloggers. I see you have had a break yourself and are now back with a great review and give away I would very much like to win. It would be of particular interest as the subject of adoption is close to our hearts.