The success of Drowning Squirrels is not only dependent on the unique and powerful account of a young girl’s struggle to overcome two destructive mothers, but also in its ability to target two large audiences, mothers and daughters of all ages and backgrounds and 60% of the American population that is personally affected by adoption. The complex relationship that arises between mothers and daughters is a universal one. As the mother is the primary source of identification for a daughter, the intricate interrelations and conflicts that challenge this formative bond between mother and daughter dominate the literary market.
In recent years, mother-daughter dyads have been researched, critiqued, and represented in scholarly journals and works of nonfiction by scholars such as Nancy Chodorow, Ann E. Butler, and Jessica Benjamin, to name a few. This tenuous relationship engulfs the arena of fiction as it is exposed and fixated on in works of literature and in movies such as Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club and Christina Crawford’s Mommie Dearest, and more currently, Janet Fitch’s White Oleander and Rebecca Wells’ Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Even Jack Canfield has made this defining and vital bond between mother and daughter a central theme to his collection of Chicken Soul anecdotes in Chicken Soup for the Mother and Daughter Soul: Stories to Warm the Heart and Honor the Relationship. The mother-daughter bond is the most scrutinized of relationships, and this being the case, the market is flooded with mother-daughter examinations on the internet, in University English classes, television, art, and literature. A relationship that affects women of all ages, races and cultures around the world, it engulfs the individual who seeks to unravel and define the intricacies and complexities involved in mother-daughter subjectivities. There continues to be a high demand for mother-daughter representations and how they develop in order to understand, redefine, and perhaps even improve them for future generations of mothers and daughters. Drowning Squirrels will add to the discourse and examination of mother-daughter dyads and can easily find an extensive audience within this market.
In addition to its relevance in the dominant arena of mother-daughter representations, Drowning Squirrels will also open the door for adoption, another emerging market. According to the United States Census Bureau of April 2001 there are one and a half million adopted children living in the United States. Between 1971 and 2001, US citizens have adopted 265,677 children from other countries. The Adoption Institute’s 1997 Public Opinion Benchmark survey reveals that 60% of Americans are personally affected by adoption, whether they have been adopted, have adopted or relinquished a child to adoption, or know of someone who is adopted. These numbers will only increase throughout the upcoming years, as more and more Americans research and join agencies, national and international, from which they can adopt a child. As an adoption narrative,Drowning Squirrels also caters to these numbers of individuals who have been personally touched by adoption and the hope/despair conflict that interconnects with this altruistic act. On an even larger scale, Drowning Squirrels appeals to every child and every adult, for the primary objective of the autobiography is to depict the complex and volatile relationship forged between parent and child. One does not need to be adopted to understand and relate to the tensions, confusion and anguish a child suffers at the inexplicable will of a parental figure.
Drowning Squirrels addresses the intricacies of dual and disparate lives experienced by the millions of children adopted in the United States alone, but it will also find a niche in the libraries of every individual, whether she is adopted or not, who has found herself in an intolerable parent-child relationship. Parental inadequacies are a universal concern, and this narrative calls out to inspire that offspring who has had love withheld from her out of spite, has been silenced, manipulated, or emotionally ignored by a parental caregiver. Drowning Squirrels reveals the personal journey of a woman seeking individuality and self-definition. Her journey interlocks with the rite of passage that persons of all ages and cultures must embark upon at some point in their lives. Everyone’s journey varies in intensity, in significance, in complexity, in degrees, and the outcome of each experience is equally diverse. The constant element that is inherent in all human beings is the will to survive. A natural instinct that requires courage and determination, it resides in each of us. The point in our lives in which we allow this impulse to emerge is liberating for it overrides our fears, self-doubt, and self-loathing long enough for us to prevail over our struggles. Overcoming these challenges is a victory that defines us and remains with us for eternity.