Picks and Pans Review: Blessings of An Unexpected Life

updated 07/27/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/27/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Alice Eve Cohen |

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The author of this powerful memoir never believed the superstition she was raised with: that to speak of your good fortune is to risk the Evil Eye. Yet just months after telling her fiancé she was happier than she'd been in years, Cohen—then 44, with an adopted daughter and a career as a solo theater artist—was blindsided. A DES daughter who'd been told she couldn't get pregnant, she found a mass in her stomach that turned out to be a fetus: She was six months along. "I try every day to want this child," Cohen writes. "She has had no prenatal care, no weight gain ... and glasses and glasses of Italian red wine." Her struggle over whether to end the pregnancy (she had a week to decide) or to give up her child for adoption makes for a gripping story about one of the most wrenching decisions a woman can face. She chose to keep little Eliana, who has RSS, a rare growth disorder. Seven years later, Cohen writes, the family is not only surviving but thriving. Take that, Evil Eye.

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