The Red Thread

The Red Thread

by Ann Hood


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The new bestseller from the author of The Knitting Circle: “Is there anyone who can write about the connections between ordinary people as well as Ann Hood does?”—Jodi Picoult

“In China there is a belief that people who are destined to be together are connected by an invisible red thread. Who is at the end of your red thread?” After losing her infant daughter in a freak accident, Maya Lange opens The Red Thread, an adoption agency that specializes in placing baby girls from China with American families. Maya finds some comfort in her work, until a group of six couples share their personal stories of their desire for a child. Their painful and courageous journey toward adoption forces her to confront the lost daughter of her past. Brilliantly braiding together the stories of Chinese birth mothers who give up their daughters, Ann Hood writes a moving and beautifully told novel of fate and the red thread that binds these characters’ lives. Heartrending and wise, The Red Thread is a stirring portrait of unforgettable love and yearning for a baby.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393339765
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 05/02/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 347,784
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Ann Hood is the author of eight previous books, including the best-selling memoir Comfort: A Journey Through
Grief and best-selling novels The Book That Matters Most and The Knitting Circle. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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The Red Thread 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
Crazy-for-Books More than 1 year ago
"In China there is a belief that people who are destined to be together are connected by an invisible red thread. Who is at the end of your red thread?" The Red Thread is a wonderfully written novel chronicling the lives of five couples, along with the adoption agency director, as they go through the process of adopting a baby girl from China. We see their high points.and low points; their excitement.and their jitters. Fraught with emotion, Ann Hood puts a spell on the reader and she seamlessly moves us through the families' stories, from their initial meeting, to the home study, to the paperwork, to the months and months of waiting to hear from the Chinese government, and finally to the trip to China to pick up the babies. Through each section of the story, we get the adoption director, Maya's, point of view, as well as the perspective of each family as they struggle with the emotional upheaval that the process brings onto them. Maya comes with her own set of demons and it is agonizing to read her inner turmoil and how she is haunted by a freak accident that resulted in the death of her infant daughter. It destroyed her and it destroyed her marriage. Through this book, Maya does begin to heal, but she is very tentative and does not want to get emotionally involved with anyone, for fear of losing them, too. I enjoyed reading about Maya's journey and how through her work as an adoption agency director, she is able to begin the healing process. One of the best parts of the book are the stories of the Chinese mothers and fathers who are forced to give up their baby girls. China has very strict laws about having one child, with the male child being the most desirable. If a family has a daughter first, they are allowed to try for a son, but if a second girl is born, there are strict punishments on those families. Thus, many women are forced to give up their little girls - leaving them in parks, on police station steps, or at orphanage doors - in order to avoid punishment. It is utterly heartbreaking and I cannot imagine the pain that these families must endure, hoping that their children end up in good homes. I truly loved reading their stories and it added so much depth to the novel. I love the magical theory of the "red thread", that people are destined to be together. I believe in fate and destiny and I loved reading about the invisible "red thread" that brought the American families and their abandoned Chinese daughters together. It truly was pure magic. I thoroughly loved this book and I would highly recommend it. If I could give it more than 5 stars I would - that's how much I loved it.
millstreetreader More than 1 year ago
When I read Jennifer Grant's reference to a red thread connecting her to their then unknown adoptive child, I immediately remembered this book I read two years ago. Red Thread, named after the Chinese belief that we are tied by an invisible thread to all who will become important in our lives, is Ann Hood's novel centers around an adoption agency which specializes in Chinese adoptions. Six adoptive families seek Maya Lange and her Red Thread Agency's expertise in successful overseas adoptions. Chapters alternate between revelations about what has brought each couple to their decisions to adopt and emotional glimpses into the lives of six Chinese birth mothers. The differences between cultures will at time be jarring, even upsetting, but I guarantee you will better understand the painful decisions made by each mother. And for the six babies in this book, new opportunities to be loved and cherished await them. And as the day approaches when each family will be "born," you will learn more about Maya Lange and her secret heartache. I have to confess that although I remembered this book instantly when I reread the phrase "red thread" in Jennifer Grant's book, I did not recall too many details about the book. I did remember a strong emotional reaction to the story, a better understanding of reasons foreign children might be abandoned, and a strong woman who told the story. But in fact, I could not remember whether the story was fiction or nonfiction. In a way I believe that is a compliment to author Ann Hood; two years after reading her book I still had such an emotional response that I thought momentarily that Maya Lange was a real person. I am a strong proponent that well written fiction can help us examine some of our most serious topics and The Red Thread is that kind of fiction.
novelone More than 1 year ago
Ann Hood has always been a favorite of mine and so I had to get her newest book the day it came out. I was not disappointed. Maya runs an adoption agency called The Red Thread matching families with Chinese baby girls that have been abandoned by their families. In alternating voices we share the histories of the prospective families, the stories that led to the abandonment of each child and also Maya's secret which stands in the way of her own happiness. This story is especially poignant knowing that the author lost her daughter to a sudden illness at a very young age and adopted from China herself. The Chinese believe a red thread connects us from birth to the people we should be with. Read it and see if you agree.
frisbeesage on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Red Thread is the story of Americans adopting baby girls from China told from both sides. So as the American families are moving towards the decision to adopt, we also see the Chinese mothers moving towards giving their daughters up. I liked the plot device, its an interesting concept that I haven't seen done before. The central character of the story is Maya, the owner of the adoption agency connecting the two worlds. Unfortunately I found the development of both the plot and the characters to be a bit superficial and lacking. She could have done so many intriguing things with this story, but most of it is predictable and one-dimensional. Its still an entertaining, quick read, just not as deep as I had hoped. The audio version of The Red Thread is read by Hillary Huber. She a smooth, pleasant voice and does a fine job with the narration. Some of the raw, intense emotion doesn't come through, but that may have been more a fault of the writer than of the reader.
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The intertwining of stories was interesting, but I never felt like I got to see more than the surface of the different characters. Additionally, they felt stereotypical - the stepmom who doesn't get along with the stepchild and wants to build her own family with her husband, the high powered business woman who wants a child NOW, the couples strained by infertility treatments. The story could have been more meaningful if the characters had been more fully developed.
kaulsu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It was a good book....not the best, but it kept my attention and was a fast read. A bit of a tear-jerker at the end.Maya Lange was holding her daughter after a bath and the baby rather jumped out of her arms and died from the trauma of the fall. Maya couldn't live with the guilt and subsequently shattered her husband's life a second time by leaving and divorcing him.But life takes its own twists and turns and Maya ended up opening an adoption agency, placing abandoned baby girls from China with American couples in desperate need of a baby.Maya believes that "there exists a silken red thread of destiny. It is said that this magical cord may tangle or stretch but never break. When a child is born, that invisible red thread connects the child's soul to all the people--past, present, and future--who will play a part in that child's life. Over time, that thread shortens and tightens, bringing closer and closer those people who are fated to be together."The book follows a group of parents in their journey to adoption and also introduces the reader to the babies who will be put up for adoption and why.How accurate a picture this is the reader will have to decide for themselves.
gaijinsue on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is perhaps Ann Hood's most ambitious book to date. In THE RED THREAD, Hood weaves together the stories of Maya, the head of an adoption agency who is mourning the death of her own biological child and a divorce; several prospective adoptive parents looking to adopt baby girls from China; and the birth mothers of the baby girls. I found this novel highly readable, profoundly moving, and very timely. I loved this book.
berylweidenbach on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There were so many characters in this book, none of them memorable, that up until the very end I was still not sure who was who. The people seeking these adoptions were surprisingly inappropriate candidates to adopt. Often the couples weren't even both in favor of adopting. I had a hard time picturing them OR finding them believable. A few I actually disliked, especially Susannah whowas embarassed by her own disabled child and seemed to want a "replacement" that was perfect. The stories of the Chinese families were very sad, so all the more reason for these babies to go to happy stable homes. Maya had her own secret and her own guilt to deal with. She did seek to work through that in the story, and seemed to be on her way to forgiving herself yet I'm not sure this was the best moment to bring a new daughter into her own life. The idea of "the red thread" running through our lives is thought provoking but the story seemed unrealistic to me, the pre adoption time frame too short and the adoptive parents unsuitable. The last minute baby switch also probably would not have happened in real life. A good idea, not well executed. It could have been so much more!
tammathau on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Red Thread is a story about 5 couples and their journey to adopt from China. Also told is the stories of the Chinese mothers and the circumstances behind their decision to abandon their babies.
solestria on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ann Hood's The Red Thread is about Maya, the owner of an adoption agency for parents seeking to adopt girls from China, and the six couples who come to her as the book begins, one of whom is Maya's best friend. It follows them all through the process and the ups and downs that come with it.I was interested in the premise behind this book, but felt the execution was a bit lacking. The writing is mediocre, but the real flaw is the lack of character development. I couldn't feel a thing for any of them. We learn about Maya's secret from her past and how much pain it causes her, and we see events happening to the other characters, but we never get inside their heads or get a feel for them as real people. They interact with each other and things happen, but they don't seem to have much agency or actual personality. Nell is the type-A personality, Sophie is the idealist, Maya is the secretive one with a heart of gold, etc. It's shocking to think of some of these characters as parents (Emily, Maya's best friend who can't accept the presence of her stepdaughter in her life, and Susannah, a terrible mother to the 6-year-old disabled daughter she feels so ashamed of), and their marriages are clearly a wreck, so it's amazing to me that anyone would let them adopt. The take-home message here seems to be that a healthy baby will fix it all, especially given Maya's counsel to the wives that their reluctant husbands will "come around".Maya's uncharacterist reactions are cliched; she opens up suddenly to the love interest who has no real personality beyond being nice, a good cook, and somehow head over heels for Maya. By the end of the book, I was rolling my eyes at the supposed resolution, which seems like it's headed toward bringing these poor babies into train wrecks of lives that they don't deserve. These are characters who belong on sit-coms and are about that well-thought-out. There's also the downright unbelievable part when one baby is switched from one prospective parent to another who hasn't recently completed paperwork, home visit, etc--I seriously doubt that the Chinese adoption laws would allow for that sort of thing.What I can say for this book is that it was a surprisingly enjoyable read despite all this, and I read it in about five hours straight. However, this is not a book I'll be recommending to friends.
jovilla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the story of several American families who are considering adoption of Chinese baby girls. At the same time in China baby girls are being given up for adoption. Well written.
Micheller7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Red Thread by Ann Hood tells the story of five couples wanting to adopt a baby and the story of Maya, the woman who runs the Red Thread Adoption Agency. All of the babies for adoption come from China and this novel tells the baby and birth mother's story too. It is a very readable book, nicely and smoothly written, with short chapters that go back and forth among the couples' stories, interwoven with five stories from China. Each of the latter only has a single entry. At first I found so many stories a bit confusing and had to keep looking back to remind myself of the background of each - who had the miscarriages, who was in a second marriage, who had a disabled daughter, etc. Eventually, I got it pretty well figured out and kept it all straight.Maya has a story herself, a sad one. It appears to mirror a bit the author's story (noted in the acknowledgments section), so it felt real in its emotionally laden narrative. It is the Chinese stories that are saddest of all, but unlike the adoptive families, there is no happy ending for them.It is up to the reader's own philosophy about fate and destiny to decide whether there is truly an invisible red thread that joins these families together.
SignoraEdie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Ann Hood's books. Reading them, whether a novel or a memoir, feels like sitting down with a close friend. Her characters are vibrant and authentic and each story is wrapped in an emotional context that always draws me in. This story is fiction, but has to have been influenced by her own experience. After losing her own young daughter to a virulent sudden infection (read her memoir "Comfort") she and her husband decide to adopt another daughter, a Chinese orphan from the Hunan province. In the novel, we follow 6 couples who are embarking on the process of adopting a Chinese abandoned girl as well as hear the stories of the 6 Chinese mothers who must give up their daughters. Holding it all together is the director of the Red Thread Adoption Agency, who has her own story. Believing that a red thread exists that ties a new born child to all the people who are important in its life, the red thread binds all these stories. Bravo Ann Hood!
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Maya Lange's baby daughter died in a tragic accident, she walked away from that life forever and dedicated her life to the Red Thread Adoption Agency. The book follows five families, each very different, on their paths to adopting daughters from China. Intertwined with the families's stories and Maya's own path to forgiveness are the stories of the Chinese mothers forced to abandon their daughters. At first I thought there were way too many characters to keep track of, but Ann Hood actually does a nice job of weaving the stories together. I'd recommend this book to fans of women's fiction like Anne Tyler.
khager on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is about a group of families about to adopt a baby from China and the woman who runs the adoption agency they all use. It's not really about adoption, per se (or about international adoption) but that's definitely a part of the book. (Obviously.)This is just an amazing book. The writing is fantastic (one of the characters has a "voice full of vodka" at one point) and really, there aren't enough superlatives in the world for this book.
bookaholicmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At first I found the book a bit hard to follow. There are so many characters introduced in a short period of time. After I got used to the rhythm of the story I was able to follow along without any troubles. The story is about 6 couples who are seeking adoption from The Red Thread Adoption Agency run by Maya. Maya opened the agency after losing her own daughter in a tragic accident. The book follows what the 6 adoptive couples go through and also follows the story of the Chinese birth mothers and what they are going through. I liked Maya and felt sorry for her. It kind of seemed like torture to bring babies into the lives of others after she has lost her own daughter. I liked this book alot and how it showed both sides of the story. I liked the idea that an invisible red thread connects people that are destined to be together.
clamairy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had a rough time warming up to the many characters in Ann Hood's latest novel. She may have spread the tale too thinly. The novel suffers from too many couples vying for the reader's attentions and sympathies. I didn't feel drawn to any of them. I would make the effort not to compare the protagonist of The Red Thread with her counterpart from The Knitting Circle but they are so obviously cut from the same cloth that it would be nearly impossible. Maybe I didn't let enough time pass between reading the two novels. It's been roughly a year or so. I understand that underlying themes of loss pervade Hood's work due to her own tragic family history, but I'd like to see her stretch and move beyond it. Or, at the very least, not make it the only centerpiece of her next novel. I'll probably still share this book with those friends who are already Hood fans, but I probably won't recommend it to anyone who isn't familiar with her. I'm hoping there was or will be a bit more editing and rewriting done before the first print.
ddirmeyer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ann Hood's The Red Thread is an engaging book about the horrific and unfair adoption and birth practices in China as well as the emotional turmoil of infertility and adoption in American. Centered around Maya, a single woman who is the director of an adoption agency for Chinese babies, the book tells the stories of multiple American couples as well as Chinese families. I found the depth of information about the adoption process quite well covered as well as believable. Parents are often unrealistic in their ideas of the adoption process as well as the time and effort involved. Additionally, the horrific practices of forcing Chinese mothers to place their infants for adoption was well covered.Hood introduces a wide range of American and Chinese characters, most of whom are not given the time and development of character that the reader inevitably craves. While I was left thinking about the Chinese mothers and their losses for days after finishing the book, I still felt a longing to have known more about the women.The Red Thread is a book that drew me in immediately and had me wanting to finish it as soon as possible.
janiereader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After reading this book I thought to myself that it was OK, but actually I think it was better than that. After all, I did read the whole book in one day. Though not prize winning fiction, I found the story fast paced and satisfying, this book looks into the lives of many different women and their quest to be mothers. Interesting information about China was included and set in the 2000's made me wonder if the ritualistic "dumping" of female babies still happens over there today? This seems like something from long ago, not something that could happen today. I will go on to learn more about it. One last note, the author herself, like the main character lost a baby and traveled to China to adopt a daughter.
sleahey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a former adoption worker, I found this novel poignant and engaging, if not always realistic. Although it sometimes read like a soap opera, I still cared about the main character; the secondary characters were defined mostly by their flaws.
redladysbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a beautiful story about the thread of connection that people have who desire and long for a child. The novel centers on Maya who owns and operates The Red Thread Adoption Agency which helps families adopt baby girls from China. She has hidden her own previous loss of a child and marriage from her friends, clients and staff. The story focuses on six couples, including Emily, one of Maya's closest friends. She alternately shares the stories of six women from China and their sad stories of how they had to abandon their daughters. Ann Hood flawlessly threads the stories together so that they are not overwhelming or hard to follow and in the end, she seams together the loose ends. Maya is the thread that connects all of the characters while she is on her own journey of healing and exploration of how she can find wholeness in her own life once again.This is a beautifully written novel that I found touching and heartfelt. I felt a sense of connection with the characters and their stories and it stirred my own emotions as one who had a strong desire to have a child and became a mother in my mid-thirties. As I read the stories of the Chinese women who had to give up their beloved daughters it made me stop and think on a deeper level. These babies are often well loved and their parents often want to keep them, there are reasons that they must be put up for adoption. In most cases, they are forced to do so. It doesn't take away the pain from the parents letting them go in the hopes of a better life in America for their child. The stories shared scenarios and experiences that give a cultural background and delve into the experiences and emotion of foreign adoption. Some of these stories will definitely tug at your heartstrings as they did mine. My heart went out to the birth mothers who had to let go of their own thread of connection to their baby girls and allowed another connection to be put in place.This is an intensely personal story for Ann Hood who lost a child and went through a similar adoption process. This book is fiction but there seems to be some parallels to her own life. Her writing is superb and rich, this is an author that you don't want to miss.
shearon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Efforts at population control and cultural attitudes in China often make baby girls less desirable to many families than boys, so there are many Chinese baby girls available for adoption by American families. This is a story of six couples considering such an adoption and the woman who facilitates these adoptions. While ultimately intended, I think, to be a story of how grief and sadness and disappointment can be overcome, in rushing to that conclusion, the story touches on so many issues, that this reviewer was left without the warm and fuzzy feeling that I think was anticipated.It's an ensemble cast and we get the background stories of the six couples: their personalities, marital history, why they want to adopt, including pregnancy loss, failed fertility treatments, genetic concerns or simply the desire for a large family, along with that of the agency owner, Maya, who lost a young child several years back through an accident for which she cannot forgive herself. As the couples go through the adoption process, some long denied fears and tensions emerge. And some of these families have serious issues; ones that certainly a cute little baby can't be expected to cure. There are also the stories of the Chinese birth parents who gave up these daughters, which are told in a very cursory fashion. Certainly the sadness and pain experienced by these families is expressed, but like a few other characters in the book, e.g. Maya's love interest, there is very little development of these characters.All that said, I enjoyed the book while reading it. But when done, I felt, as sometimes happens in these ensemble cast novels, that I had met a whole series of characters, but did not really get to know any of them. I was also troubled by the idea at the end that the potentially serious marital and family discord we had gotten a glimpse of with some of the characters, and certain individual personality traits, would vanish because of these new babies and the happiness they promise. Surely the author, who lost a child herself and is also the adoptive mother of a Chinese daughter, would not intend such a short sighted and unrealistic conclusion.But I can recommend this book as a rather light read, not deep, but touching throughout and with a happy ending. Thanks to LTER for the chance to read and review this.
poolays on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although I have been reading and enjoying Ann Hood's books for years, I wasn't sure I would be interested in this one. Wrong! I loved it. It is two compelling stories: the stories of the couples choosing to adopt baby girls from China, and the stories of those baby girls and the mothers who have given them up. As always it is well written and the characters well developed. I thought I wouldn't be able to keep everybody straight, but they became individuals I wanted to figure out. I will continue to look forward to reading Ann Hoods books.
IrishLadyPK More than 1 year ago
Heartwarming book, embracing all personality types. Great background on the Chinese children, God bless those who care.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful, emotional storytelling.