Allyson Cole became a mother at the age of sixteen when her boyfriend, Sonny McGraw, got her pregnant. Unfortunately, Sonny did not stick around to support Allyson, and Allyson’s parents gave her an ultimatum – put the baby up for adoption or Allyson and the baby would receive no support from them. Feeling trapped, Allyson put the baby (a girl) up for adoption, and the baby was taken from her immediately after birth.
Now, at fifty-two, Allyson owns a health food restaurant called “The Slender Pea” in Portland, Oregon. She is in a serious relationship with a successful, wonderful man named Warren, a surgeon who is a great friend and lover. Life is good for Allyson, and she is happy. However, she still thinks back to the days of her pregnancy and giving up her daughter for adoption. Allyson knows that her daughter was named Sarah by the adoptive parents, the Pearsons. Sadly, Sarah has never tried to contact Allyson, even though Allyson has kept her contact information current with the adoption agency over the years.
Allyson’s life is turned upside down one evening when her doorbell rings. On her doorstep is a sullen sixteen-year-old boy who announces that he is her grandson. Apparently, Allyson’s daughter, Sarah, died merely weeks before from breast cancer and Nick is her sole surviving child. A couple who were friends with Sarah have legal custody to raise Nick upon Sarah’s death – but Sarah instructed Nick, in a letter left for him on her death, that he is to look up Allyson if he is not happy living with Nancy and Randy, Sarah’s friends.
What transpires next is Allyson adjusting to being a grandmother and Nick adjusting to his new situation as well, a rocky road for both of them. Nick has anger and resentment toward Allyson, and he has never had a father figure in his life. Allyson decides to look up Sonny, whom she learns lives in Texas, and Allyson and Nick take a cross-country trip for Nick to meet his grandfather – and for Allyson to get some of her own answers from Sonny as to why he left her so many years ago.
The Me I Used to Be is a poignant novel that explores the issues and emotions associated with family, adoption, and love. I found this book to be quite a page-turner and I did not want to put it down. Archer has a talent for developing interesting, “real” characters, and I was fully engrossed in this novel, which is nicely peppered with humorous anecdotes that add a light-hearted note to the serious topics. I highly recommend this book to fans of women’s fiction.