Author(s): Barbara Sumner
A compelling memoir of adoption, loss and discovery
‘I live at the end of a gravel road at the top of a valley consumed by bush. My husband is here, and my three girls. But the bush swallows them up like the road.’ I wrote those words at the kitchen table in 1983. A letter to the mother I’d never met. But how do you convey your life in a few sentences when almost every memory is missing?
Barbara Sumner grew up in a family filled with secrets and lies. At twenty-three she decided she had to find her mother. Remarkable, moving, beautifully written, Tree of Strangers is a gripping account of a search for identity in a country governed by adoption laws that deny the rights of the adopted person.
This remarkable, moving, beautifully written memoir explores Sumners conviction that everyone who loses their mother suffers some degree of physiological damage. They are all grafted onto the tree of strangers.
Barbara Sumner has worked in film and journalism, and manages Cloud South Pictures with her husband, Tom Burstyn. In 2009 This Way of Life, their feature documentary about a family living simply in the Ruahine Ranges, won the Berlinale Generation Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival, was shortlisted for an Oscar, and won awards at film festivals around the world. In 2020 Barbara is enrolled at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington. She lives in Napier. https://www.barbarasumner.nz/