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Permanent Home:
A Memory Collection

In this charming collection of memoir vignettes, the author portrays the early adopted childhood of an Air Force daughter in the '50s and '60s. Stories of loss and privilege advance through her adulthood and the successful search for her biological mother. She survives a major brain hemorrhage and endures a lengthy rehab in her fifties. Nonetheless, her quest to solve the puzzle of her birth identity and obscured heritage brings the reward of self-discovery.

Previously published as Permanent Home: A Memoir.

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Reader Reviews
Susan Tepper
5.0 out of 5 stars

A Memoir That Doesn't Gloss Things Over
This book cover, which is so attractive and nostalgic, belies much of what transpires within the pages of this finely crafted memoir. A young woman who is adopted goes in search of herself. She is not supported by her adoptive family and there is abuse which was sad to read, yet memoir must be true to itself, so therefore those scenes were necessary to help the reader understand the complexities of the life being sought after. The opening chapters of the girl and her Nana were very soft and lovely, so don't expect this book to be a downer, because it's not. It's reality, the kind of reality many people grew up with in the Eisenhower years. I'm glad to have read this book because I learned a thing or two and that's what I aim for in the books I buy. I also found the black and white photos peppered throughout quite insightful and important to the telling of this story. Highly recommended.

5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging memoir that captivates your imagination
The author has a lyrical writing style that blends early childhood memories into what reads like a vision or a dream. The stream of consciousness is how we all relive our early childhood which I found moving and relatable. The segue into the trauma and loss as she learns of the circumstances surrounding her birth adds a touching and personal element that draws the reader in. The story moves effortlessly into her troubling experiences later in life that brings the experience for the reader full circle. I couldn't put it down."

5.0 out of 5 stars "creativity through adversity
PERMANENT HOME is a wonderful collection of stories. it bares the sensitive and creative soul of a woman, whose body was stopped in an instant, like a stroke of a cat's paw. I'd like to think it was meant to be, for having her creativity flourish and giving us stories and poems to read for our pleasure. this is a book that confirms that we can never give up and will inspire to stimulate whatever creativity we have within each of us.


5.0 out of 5 stars Each Chapter a Meditation
This memoir had me resenting anything that interrupted the reading of it. Many of the poetic and nostalgic chapters of the book made my eyes tear up and smiles occur at the same time. Mary Ellen has been trying to get to know her "true" self since, at a very young age, her adoptive parents made an awkward attempt to explain that she was chosen and had not come to them in the usual way. After coming a long way in finding her "true" self she must reinvent herself when a stroke abruptly changes everything at the age of 58. This memoir is quite an interesting read and I knew I would want to reread it after each turn of the page. I have gifted one book already and plan on purchasing another to keep on the nightstand in my guest room.


Paige A. Strickland5.0 out of 5 stars Hey, Adoption Community! Add this one to your list!
5.0 out of 5 stars
Mary Ellen Gambutti’s new memoir book, Permanent Home, is lyrical, descriptive and fast-moving. It is the story of her life presented in brief but richly-worded glimpses into simpler, more traditional times while coming of age during the eye-opening, counter-culture emergent 1950s-70s. The opening section of this book masterfully sets the scene during a time when American prosperity and freedom abound and blissful acceptance of authority was the norm. This section is also about Gambutti’s loving relationship with her Nana and their shared esteem for gardening and nature.

In the middle sections of this book, the story continues as the author shares her joys and frustrations of being adopted, searching for and connecting with biological family. She describes via assorted vignettes her frustrations regarding closed birth records, missing health history and not looking like anyone in her family plus the marvels of her reunion experiences. She tells of the turbulent relationship between herself and her military-careered adoptive father, her teen angst and rebellion as she comes out of not just the usual fog all adolescents experience but the adoptee fog, which creates an additional layer.

The later parts of Gambutti’s story tie up the loose ends and take the reader into more recent times: her gardening career, survival of a hemorrhagic stroke and hard-fought recovery and her life now, filled with writing, love of plants, nature, and peace.

Permanent Home is a wonderful life story which would have appeal to any fellow adoptee, especially those from the Baby-Scoop Era, and anyone else in the adoption community, seeking research, kinship, and validation. It’s a quick read for those short on time, but Gambutti, an expert in the Haibun writing style, packs a lot of imagery and feeling into her written art. 


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