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Cover Reveal: The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be by Shannon Gibney

Cover reveal! Part memoir, part speculative fiction, The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be explores the often surreal experience of growing up as a mixed-Black transracial adoptee, coming to shelves January 10, 2023.

Dream Country author Shannon Gibney returns with a book woven from her true story of growing up as a mixed-Black transracial adoptee and fictional story of Erin Powers, the name Shannon was given at birth, a child raised by a white, closeted lesbian. 

At its core, the novel is a tale of two girls on two different timelines occasionally bridged by a mysterious portal and their shared search for a complete picture of their origins. Gibney surrounds that story with reproductions of her own adoption documents, letters, family photographs, interviews, medical records, and brief essays on the surreal absurdities of the adoptee experience.

The end result is a remarkable portrait of an American experience rarely depicted in any form.

Scroll down to see the cover and read a sneak peek!

Artist: Max Reed, Designer: Anna Booth

I was born January 30, 1975, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The name on my birth certificate is Shannon Gibney, and my par­ents are listed as Jim and Susan Gibney. These are my white adopted parents, who raised me. They gave me the loafers I remember wearing almost forty years ago. The backyard woods where my imagination first grew roots was theirs.

The woman who gave birth to me and subsequently relinquished me was named Patricia Powers. She was a white, working-class Irish American woman who had a short relationship with my African Amer­ican birth father, Boisey Collins Jr. My birth mother named me Erin Powers after I was born, but I didn’t find that out until I was nineteen. I possess no childhood memories of either of them.

I grew up with my white adopted parents in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with two white brothers, who were biologically related to my parents. When I was nineteen and no longer a child in the eyes of the state, I em­barked on a search for my possible birth siblings and my birth parents. I found my birth mother, Patricia Powers, who then still lived in her hometown of Utica, New York. We had a complicated, on-again, off-again relationship from the mid-nineties until her death from cancer in 2014. She was fifty-eight when she passed.

Through my search, I also discovered that my birth father, Boisey Collins Jr., died from complications due to injuries he sustained during a high-speed police chase in Palo Alto, California, in 1981, when I was six. He was thirty-five at the time of his death.

I discovered many other things through my search and reunion ex­periences. I did not discover many things, as well. (I keep that particu­lar hunger at bay with scraps of speculation.)

I now have two living children of my own, Boisey and Marwein, and one dead, Sianneh.

This is one way to tell the story, in this time, in this place.

What follows are other ways to tell the stories of Shannon and Erin, the known and the unknown, truth and speculation, to awaken the sleepers, to call forth the living, the dead, and those residing elsewhere.

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Penguin Teen