Taking Tamar was a surprise to me. I didn’t expect to be intrigued by what I thought would be the same old story. We’ve read it before: single woman adopts child with birth defect. Martha Lev-Zion is that woman. She writes in such a forthright manner that the reader wants to know more. We come to realize that even if it is the same old story, here is a fresh attitude. Martha writes that she wasn’t scared of taking in a Down syndrome baby. She never even considered the thought of how she would get along financially. All she could focus on was that these children were being abandoned, and she could not let that happen. She adopted Tamar, and they were a family. When there were difficulties getting Tamar a visa to come to the United States, Martha tells of her Bedouin friends who were going to help by whisking Tamar across the border. The Bedouins were touched by the differences in cultures. This is an interesting point of view for an American, since we tend to look at situations from our perspective. The Bedouins found it hard to understand how Martha could love someone else’s child as if it were her own. The photos at the end of the book are especially compelling because they show the reader that Tamar is and looks different. The photos make clear the depth of Martha Lev-Zion’s courage and compassion.
Erin Cantor is an interior designer, teacher of reading and math to third-graders, and a returned Peace Corps volunteer.