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Tiburon resident’s novel explores complexity of adoption, motherhood

About a decade ago, Jessica O’Dwyer wrote a memoir that traced her complicated and emotional journey to adopt her daughter from Guatemala — the first of two children she and her husband adopted from the country in the early 2000s. After “Mamalita” was published, O’Dwyer felt satisfied she had told the story she wanted to tell.

But over the past 10 years or so, as the Tiburon resident grew as a mother and connected with thousands of other adoptive parents, she realized she had more to say.

“There were so many stories to tell and so many people shared their truths with me,” says O’Dwyer, 62. “I felt almost a responsibility to expand the understanding of what this experience is.”

This time, instead of drawing from her firsthand experience as an adoptive parent, O’Dwyer pivoted to fiction. Her novel, “Mother Mother,” published last October, focuses on two moms: Julie, a curator at a contemporary-art museum in California who adopts a young son, Juan, from a Guatemalan orphanage, and Rosalba, an indigenous Mayan and Juan’s birth mother. The story alternates narratives between Julie and Rosalba as both women grapple with issues of social status, race, deception and love.

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