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Comments and Reviews

"'The Same Smile' is ultimately the story of a family that has transformed enormous pain and suffering into a joyous ability to embrace the patterns that life offers up and to make something very beautiful out of both the darkness and the light..."
Maureen O'Donnell

Joanne, Kris and Beth, daughters of Susan Mello Souza author of the Same Smile

"'The Same Smile,' a wonder book…it lets others realize what we first mothers really went through and what we even go through today, reliving every moment of the past. The best book I’ve read." (Mayre – Kentucky)

"Just have been reading every spare moment. I find myself delaying the things I need to do, only to read." (Jean – Michigan)

"I was touched by Joanne’s honesty. It must have been hard at first to hear how honest she was. Thanks for writing your story. It has touched my life." (Amy – Illinois)

Writer's Digest Book Review - 4/18/2003  "This book is really beautifully written – Susan Souza does a lovely job shaping the narrative, providing compelling and rich dialogue and descriptions. The momentum works well – the story unrolls smoothly and cleanly. I’m often a little wary of memoirs being told in present tense, but here I found the choice worked well: it lent an immediacy and urgency to the telling that I thought was very effective. I’m always very impressed with writers’ ability to go back and relive troubling experiences; I think that the death of a child (or children) has got to be one of the most difficult experiences to even endure, let alone be able to relive for many months in the pages of a book. The author’s eventual message of hope and renewal were very helpful in an often troubling and sad narrative."

"'The Triumph of A Mother’s Love' is a perfect sub-title. My favorite stories are stories of the triumph of the human spirit. Susan tells her story so well; all the sadness and joy seem ready to jump out from the pages. I, especially, loved reading Joanne’s thoughts during early contact and reunion - so typical of how so many adoptees feel, but to see it in print is amazing." (Sally - Wisconsin)

"You and Joanne did a wonderful job of making the reader part of your story. The honest way you dealt with your feelings, the insights offered, and the dual writing as you got to know each other was unique and just great to read. Thank you both for sharing your reunion with us." (Judy – Ohio)

Nancy Ashe – Book guide/reviewer - 
Rating: 5 Stars
Pros: Very well-written - Flowing story line - A "feel-good" book
Cons: None
The Bottom Line: This wonderfully human story of a 60's relinquishment and a family reunited is told in the blended voices of mother and (found) daughter.

"Instead of a tragic account of the loss of a child to adoption, compounded by the death of a subsequent child to leukemia, this book is a triumph of strength. The losses are not diminished, the emotional scars are still there, but author Souza's story is forward-looking and encouraging. The added voice of her (found) daughter adds another dimension, with her (Joanne's) honest expression of her initial discomfort, and her growing closeness with her new-found family. The "happily-ever-after" ending is well- deserved, paid for in tears and anguish. The Same Smile is an apt title, as seen in the photographs of Souza with her three daughters, but after reading the book, I think the title "The Same Heart" would have been equally appropriate."

"I found your book to be a savior for me in my reunion with my daughter. During the different stages of reading your beautifully written story, I kept saying out-loud, 'that’s exactly how I feel.' It’s comforting to know we are not alone in our search, reunion struggles. You’re a true inspiration and I thank you for writing this book." (Meg – New York)

From an adoptive father…"Your description of how you felt blessed for your daughter to have been cared for and loved so much by her adopted family was so powerful to me. We have tried so hard to give our son a good home and family. God gave us such a gift." (Dwight - California)

R.R. Bowker Review - 12/28/04 "Her story is a testimony to the resilience of the human spirit and the bonding power of motherhood. Birth mothers and adoptees will be able to identify with Susan and Joanne's candidly shared experiences. This deeply moving book, guaranteed to tug at the heartstrings, is definitely one to read with a box of tissues handy."

"This is the first adoption related anything I will share with my dad. I feel comfortable with this book. I think, if he reads it, it may open up a dialogue that hopefully will be a little deeper than we’ve gone before." *Later that day…"My dad just stopped by and mentioned he was half way thru your book. He said that while reading, he couldn’t help but think of how I must have had a yearning all these years to know my son. I can see that he might actually be 'getting it!'" (Sandi – Michigan)

"The feelings you shared throughout the book sounded like I wrote them. Thanks for putting 'our' feelings down on paper. This book will truly bless other birth moms and adoptees." (Linda – California)

"I finished your book last night and WOW! What a journey – I loved it! I loved the honesty, warmth, and strength you expressed. The book made me think and feel ways about my adoption search that I had never considered. The part that really got me was when Joanne was looking at you from across the room and she came over with tears in her eyes, hugged you and said 'you stand like a duck.' I lost it! As simple as that statement was, so many people take that sort of thing for granted but for an adoptee it’s huge. I also stand like a duck and wore corrective shoes as a toddler! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with the world." (Kelli – California)

Review by Kasey Hamner, M.S., L.E.P. "I could not put this book down. It grabbed me from the get-go. As I was reading it, I felt like I was there with her through the loss of not one, but two daughters. It is refreshing to read about the strength of a family’s love for one another... Bottom line: This book is about love, relinquishment, and redemption. Susan has survived the loss of two daughters—one to adoption, and another to Leukemia. The hope is apparent throughout the book and the message I received was to never give up—always follow your heart because it will never lead you astray."

"I just want to you to know that my husband read your book cover to cover yesterday. I even saw a few tears shed…He said the book read so well and was so riveting that he couldn’t put it down. How’s that for an endorsement from the male faction?" (Susan – New Hampshire)

"Your book will undoubtedly be very valuable addition to the 'adoption library' – will give other birth mothers a feeling of not being so alone in what we felt/feel. It will paint a picture for our children that many birthmoms cannot express to their children themselves, of how we never forgot them and yearned for them all the years of our separation. So well done! Thank you for having the courage to use your own pain and your own journey to healing to help others." (Judy – England)

Review by Carol Bird - "This well-written book truly deserves a place on your “must read” list. It is a story of endurance and courage ... proof that “birth mothers are survivors!”

"'The Same Smile' is so readable, honest and pulls you into the life of a pregnant young woman in the 60’s and the effect it has on her life in years to follow. My husband read it and it spoke to him. I also had a friend read it who is not a birthmother and her first comment was, 'Now I understand about the regression.'" (Gloria – Wisconsin)

"Wow, you had a great way of intertwining and unfolding the experiences of your life. I cried most of my way through the book! Some parts because I have been there - done that and others because my heart broke for you, with all you lived through with Jackie. Very insightful for us birthmothers to hear what Joanne was living through also, as the book unfolds." (Marilyn - New Jersey)

"'The Same Smile' is a very joyous book about triumphing over adversity." (Kathy – Colorado)

“Thank you for sharing your story with the world. I am so, so grateful for my two precious daughters and look at them differently since I read your book. As every mother does, I have recently been through some difficult times with my older daughter, but after reading your book, I am ashamed to even think I have any problems. I only wish you could sell a little bit of your strength along with your book! If there is a Same Smile II, I want a copy." (A.G. – Massachusetts)