Somebody's Baby
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From American Woman Magazine, Nov/Dec 1995

Photographer Snow Devane is stunned by her mother's deathbed confession: "I am not your mother!" Learning that she was abducted from a supermarket cart 30 years before, Snow undergoes a major identity crisis: Who were her birth parents, and who was this woman she called "Mom"? Snow and her assistant Katie set out to unravel the mystery. Charlotte Vale-Allen's latest is heartwarming and compelling.

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West Coast Review of Books June 1995

Losing a parent is never easy. But when Snow Devane loses her mother to a sudden heart attack, she learns that she's lost more than she could have imagined. On her deathbed, Anne Cooke tells her daughter that she is not really her mother-that when Snow was an infant, Anne Stole her from her real mother and took her for her own.

In the wake of that confession, Snow must not only deal with her grief, but with a dizzying array of questions. Who are her true parents? Who was Anne Cooke, and what other secrets was she hiding? And most bewildering of all, who is Snow Devane?

Looking for the answers is a daunting task, but fortunately, Snow has help. Katie Shimura, Snow's best friend and business partner, sees the situation as an "Unsolved Mysteries" episode brought to life and wastes no time putting her amateur detective skills to use. At the same time Rudy Howell, Anne's neighbor and the closest thing to a father Snow's ever known, provides what guidance he can based on what little Anne ever told him about her past. Even people with whom Anne had business dealings do their best to help Snow solve the conundrums she faces.

As the search continues though, it becomes clear that the answers Snow craves most can only come from herself. It is she, and she alone, who will have to decide what to do with her shaken and reordered life. No one else can do it for her.

Baby stealing isn't an unusual thing, unfortunately; it turns up in the daily paper with depressing regularity. It also makes frequent appearances in fiction. What Allen has done differently-and skillfully-is to look at what happens after the crime. In Somebody's Baby we see how a parent's worst nightmare can become a child's most painful inheritance. It makes for a powerful and compelling story.

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