Discovering Mom by Bryan Foreman

Reviewed by BookBelow Team | 2023-Jun-30

"Discovering Mom" is set in the enchanting period of 1970s Oklahoma, giving readers a glimpse into the life of thirteen-year-old Daniel Bennett.  Adopted at birth and wrestling with identity issues as a biracial individual, Daniel's world takes an unexpected turn when he befriends Jasmine, another biracial student. Together, they embark on a series of extraordinary adventures, facing bullies, forming an unlikely gang, and ultimately pursuing the truth about Daniel's birth parents. As Daniel and Jasmine's paths intertwine with their own self-discovery journeys, the author offers a tale that is filled with emotion, friendship, and the exploration of one's identity.

As the story progresses the readers are treated to a series of enthralled adventures that will leave them on their toes.  The nuanced cast of characters that populate the story adds depth and real-life charm. Foreman's skillful storytelling brings all these characters to life, expressing and emoting emotions that range from laughter to tears while allowing readers to explore their personal journeys. Daniel and Jasmine's escapades are filled with both excitement and vulnerability, allowing readers to accompany them on their quest for truth and connection. 

As Daniel's journey takes center stage, the story weaves a parallel narrative that spotlights the struggles and transformation of his adoptive mother, Mary.  The evolution of Mary’s character from a pedestrian housewife to an empowered woman of the seventies is both empowering and inspiring.

At the heart of "Discovering Mom" is a poignant exploration of identity. Through Daniel's experience, Foreman masterfully emotes into the struggles faced by individuals fighting with questions of selfhood, heritage, and belonging. Daniel's multiracial background and the conflicts he faces, as a result, make it possible for readers to reflect on their own identity journeys. The sensitive portrayal of Daniel's internal struggles put forth a narrative that showcases the power of acceptance and self-discovery.

The attention to detail and authentic portrayal of the time period enrich the narrative and bestow readers with an engrossing atmosphere that enhances the overall reading experience. The author’s vivid descriptions transport readers to 1970s Oklahoma, enveloping them in an immersive setting that serves as the backdrop for the story's unfolding events. The intricately woven characters skillfully capture the essence of the era.  Be it the cultural nuances or the social climate, the intricate detailing in writing allows readers to step back in time and experience a unique period in American history.

The story takes readers on an emotional roller-coaster that explores the depths of human connections and the pursuit of one's true self. With its adventures, unforgettable characters, and evocative setting, "Discovering Mom" is a fascinating read that will leave readers reflecting on their own identity, the bonds they cherish, and the transformative power of embracing one's roots.


Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite  Review Rating: 5 Stars

Discovering Mom is a work of fiction in the coming-of-age, interpersonal drama, and nostalgic writing subgenres. It is best suited to the general young adult and adult reading audiences and contains only mild adult references and language. Penned by author Bryan Foreman, the story takes place during the 1970s in the USA, where we meet an adopted youngster, Daniel. Fitting in has never been easy for this biracial kid, but as he begins to shift from boyhood into a young man, he meets a fellow student with similar identity issues who encourages him to get in touch with his biological family. So begins a compelling family drama filled with adventure and heart.

Author Bryan Foreman has crafted a really worthwhile and emotionally fascinating tale that was so easy to get into, yet hard to let go of. I got very invested in Daniel and related to him immensely, stuck as he was with the door closed on a whole section of his life and heritage that he was dying to learn more about. I enjoyed the process of discovery, and the pacing of the novel reflects these many new twists whilst also giving us plenty of time to appreciate the growth along the way. Mary’s story was also a powerful plot-line running alongside that of her son, and the feeling of the novel overall really celebrates the best of the 1970s and the liberating movements around identity and freedom that were born in that era. Overall, Discovering Mom is a must-read for fans of emotionally charged fiction, with plenty of highs and lows along the way.


Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers’ Favorite  Review Rating: 5 Stars

Discovering Mom is a young adult coming-of-age novel by Bryan Foreman. Set in the 1970s, the book follows the story of a thirteen-year-old boy named Daniel Bennett. Daniel is in fourth grade when he and his sister Susan learn that they were adopted, and by the time he reaches the seventh grade, he's eager for the opportunity to meet with his birth parents. With his adoptive parents' marriage seemingly on the brink of collapse, Daniel finds comfort in the company of his best friend, his classmate Jasmine, whose own parents are going through a rough patch. After discovering his birth mother Karen's whereabouts, Daniel and Jasmine embark on a daring trip to California in search of her. But things don't go according to plan, and they must escape the clutches of a religious cult.

A coming-of-age tale filled with heart and humor, Discovering Mom breaks your heart, makes you smile, but most of all keeps you glued to the pages with a seamless blend of drama and intrigue. Bryan Foreman perfectly captures the angst and agency of being a teenager who feels like an outsider wherever he goes. The narrative glides past at an even pace, leading to an effortless reading experience from start to finish. Foreman shines in crafting well-realized characters who feel human and relatable. Daniel is a conflicted young boy searching for something to hold on to as his parents' marriage breaks down before his eyes. As a reader, you sympathize with Daniel and Jasmine's plight. The plot also throws a couple of curve balls your way to keep you on your toes. A moving story that I highly recommend.


Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott for Feathered Quill Book Reviews: 2023-July-18

Novelist Bryan Foreman applies his wordsmithing wit and wisdom to the tale
of a tormented teen who is secretly longing for a sense of true identity in his
newest book, Discovering Mom.

Daniel is an adopted child, something he didn’t know until his natural
curiosity at seeing his aunt late in pregnancy prompts the boy to ask his
mother if he came out of her belly as his aunt’s offspring will soon do. His
somewhat estranged but prosperous parents – a distant but errant father and
a hardworking but anxiety-ridden mother - decide to level with him, and thus
Daniel learns that he is the son of a Caucasian mother and a Native American,
Comanche father. At first dismayed at being a “half-breed,” and worse, half
“bad guy,” he soon learns to take pride in this ancestry, even asking for an
Indian costume for his ninth birthday. But his dark features and knowledge of
his background will make him an object of scorn with his schoolmates, until
he meets Jasmine, also of mixed (Black/White) race. Though young, the two
bond, loyally defending one another and rebelliously taking on the role of
defiant outcastes. Daniel’s zeal to meet his birth parents begins to eat at him,
and, remarkably, he learns his mother’s whereabouts and name – California,
and Karen - with the help of a concerned grown-up in Jasmine’s family circle.
After many phone conversations with Karen, the young couple – just seventh
graders - jump on a bus and head to California. What Daniel will find there is a
genuinely loving, caring woman whose life is unfortunately heading for
disaster. Karen has joined a bizarre religious cult and has a serious,
mysterious past that will gradually unfold to Daniel as he digs deeper,
learning secrets about the creepy creed and its dictatorial leader that will call
for a battle of wills. It is a battle that Daniel must win to secure his newly
burgeoning self-respect and sustain the very life of his newfound parent.

Foreman, a dedicated fiction writer, has interwoven complex themes and
lightning-fast action, revealed through the eyes of a tormented youngster
determined to become a better person than many of the grownups who
oversee him. Daniel’s phone conversations with Karen are a tender
combination of a mother’s sincere concern and a son’s resolve to seal the
relationship. His closeness to Jasmine, which will be especially crucial as the
story progresses, develops over time from puppy love to a quality far more
enduring. Foreman’s humor abounds throughout this well-paced adventure,
with dialogue appropriate to the varying group settings, and scenarios that
can evoke smiles along with those that will have readers holding their breath
– even shedding a tear or two - as his cinematic plot progresses.

Quill says: Foreman’s sky-wide, open-hearted, and sometimes closed-fisted
story of a misfit youth determinedly seeking and triumphantly finding a niche
and a purpose in life should be read by anyone who has ever had a dream and
worked to make it come true.


ANBlackmon for Book Nerdection: July 24, 2023

Discovering Mom is a tender, heartwarming coming of age story about a young boy trying to find a place where he belongs. It takes you on quite the journey with plenty of highs and lows all the way until the end. You'll be smiling with tears of happiness in your eyes toward the end of the novel!

The story takes place over the span of one school year and over summer vacation. I thought the pacing was very nice and flowed well throughout the story. One of my favorite themes of this story was tolerance. There were many times when Daniel, a thirteen-year-old boy who lives in rural Oklahoma in the 1970s, would encounter something different from him. Specifically, when it comes to racial differences, the beginning of the book has several instances where Daniel first encounters them with some bias. For example, when he finds out he is half Native America he is initially disturbed by the information. He had seen all of the Western films where the white Americans are portrayed as heroes and the Native Americans are vilified. But his adoptive father quickly corrected him and told him the truth. The more Daniel read into it, the more he valued the cultural differences.

Another example comes when a lesbian couple moves in across the street from the Bennets. Daniel doesn't understand and he thinks that it's weird. He doesn't necessarily demonize them, but he isn't shy about treating them differently. Toward the end of the novel, it shows how much he has grown. He makes great strides in understanding different identities and eventually comes to accept everyone.

One of the most interesting facets of this novel to me was when Daniel found his mother. I hadn't at all expected the story to be taken where it was, and I was pleasantly surprised by it. His mother used drugs heavily before Daniel was born, so she ended up signing guardianship over to his adoptive parents to give him a good life. Though, she still loved him even though she never knew him. To get clean, she joined a Christian commune called Lifespring. It is exactly as cult-like as it sounds, and a lot of conflict arises during those chapters.

This was a quick, enlightening read that I would recommend to anyone. The characters were likable, for the most part, and the journey that was explored was fulfilling. The final chapter of the book that tied everything together definitely made me tear up!


Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite  Review Rating: 5 Stars

Discovering Mom by Bryan Foreman is the coming-of-age story of Daniel as he retraces his roots. Set in the 1970s, the story follows Daniel as he struggles to discover who he is. The 13-year-old boy was adopted but never felt at home. School was hell until Jasmine Thornhill arrived. From fighting bullies to gaining courage, Jasmine and Daniel did everything together. Daniel got in touch with his birth mother after being prompted by Jasmine, and suddenly, he wanted to be with her. So, they did exactly what you would expect teenagers to do. They left their homes to look for Daniel's mother Karen. Would the two friends find Karen, or will they be lost forever?

Discovering Mom was exactly what I was expecting to be. It was the story of two teenagers thinking with their hearts and paying no attention to their heads as they journeyed to the San Francisco Bay Area to find Karen. Daniel was confused and vulnerable at the same time. He wanted to belong but was not getting that from his adoptive parents. Jasmine was the best. He could finally relate to someone, feel comfortable, and not feel stupid about it. Daniel's situation made me feel sad. While Mary was journeying to discover herself, Daniel was craving a mother's affection. Karen was ready to reconnect, but was she prepared to be a mother? The narrative style was perfect for the story. The descriptions were not heartbreaking, but they were enough to make you feel Daniel's confusion and pain. Jasmine was a breath of fresh air that Daniel desperately needed. I loved their dynamic and how they supported each other through everything. Author Bryan Foreman ensured his readers would love this story, and I certainly did.


Reviewed by Literary Titan: August 14, 2023

Discovering Mom by Bryan Foreman is a heartfelt story about Daniel, who has the perfect family and upbringing with a world of opportunity ahead. His father, a highly respected surgeon, and his mother offered a comfortable life with a large backyard, a weekly allowance, and the expectation of hard work to achieve greatness. As Daniel looks closer at his family, he realizes how out of place he feels due to being adopted. Through the encouragement of a close friend from school, Daniel decides to search for his biological mother and learn more about his family and past.

The story takes hold of the reader from the beginning, narrated in the first person by Daniel, who introduces you to his parents and family members, who try their best to raise him with love and direction. His keen curiosity and longing to fit in leads Daniel to ask questions, even at the most unexpected times. As he becomes determined to find his birth mother, he decides never to give up. Daniel tries various ways to investigate his past, hoping for answers and more information about his identity.

I found the author’s depiction of Daniel’s struggles to understand his identity, ancestry, and journey for answers extremely down-to-earth and touching. He quickly realizes that everything he knows is significantly different from what he initially believes, which is a serious shock at first! The story is a page-turner that draws you in, with fantastic character development and a well-structured tale that switches effortlessly from one scene or experience to another.

Discovering Mom by Bryan Foreman is an engaging coming-of-age read for anyone who enjoys an exciting tale of self-discovery and determination. I look forward to reading more from the author.


The Prairies Book Review: August 24, 2023

A delightfully spirited coming of age story that’s full of heart…

A vividly drawn cast, intriguing storyline, and fast-paced narrative mark Foreman’s latest novel. Thirteen-year-old Daniel Bennett struggles to fit-in both at home and at school. When he befriends Jasmine Thornhill, a biracial student in his seventh-grade algebra class, things begin to fall in place. But Daniel’s life comes crashing down after he learns about his adoption and part Comanche heritage. With Jasmine’s help, Daniel succeeds in locating his birth mom, Karen. Unsavory situations at their respective homes force the friends duo to make a daring decision: run away to the San Francisco Bay Area and meet Karen. Told in an absorbing, fast-paced narrative, this entertaining, atmospheric story skillfully explores childhood and adolescent angst, issues of identity and fitting-in, the dynamics of family, sibling love, friendship, marriage, and divorce. The first-person narrative structure in Daniel’s voice invites humor and subtlety, and the settings of Oklahoma and the San Francisco Bay Area feel authentic. Daniel’s family life with the Bennetts is portrayed vividly, and the overall premise of one young boy seeking a place to belong works well. Jasmine’s lingering presence also gives Daniel’s backstory poignancy and depth. While a subplot about Leon’s shady dealings adds little to the excitement, the playful tone helps soften the heavy subject matter. Daniel’s struggle with bullying and questions of identity brings relatable elements to the story, as does the divorce of Daniel’s parents and the changes in his and Jasmine’s family situations. Witty, fun, and heartfelt.


BookView Review: 8/24/2023

Oklahoma, 1970s. Thirteen-year-old Daniel Bennett has always wondered about his slightly darker skin tone. When he learns that he was adopted at birth and is part Comanche, he knows he has to learn more about his birth parents, particularly his mother. With the help of his best friend, Jasmine Thornhill’s detective uncle, Daniel manages to locate his birth mother, Karen, who is living hundreds of miles away in the San Francisco Bay Area. Daniel and Jasmine decide to visit Karen, unaware the trip will change their lives forever. Foreman weaves a lighthearted and empathetic account of the complex struggles of bi-racial identity from a child’s perspective, delivering all the philosophical questions with a light touch. Topics like infidelity, divorce, poverty, and cult culture are explored with sensitivity. Daniel’s first-person voice is fresh and humorous, while vivid descriptions capture his and Jasmine’s school and family lives. Daniel’s is especially endearing, ringing true as a lost, headstrong, determined young boy who struggles with issues of identity and feels like he doesn’t fit in anywhere but eventually discovers friendship, acceptance, and belongingness. Jasmine is equally compelling. Quirky, fun, and smart; an engaging tale of friendship and self-discovery.


Reviewed by David for 9/10/2023

Discovering Mom by Bryan Foreman is a Gripping Tale of Identity, Bullying, resilience, acceptance, and Redemption. It is a poignant story that explores the life of a young man, Daniel Bennett, who embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Suddenly confronted with his physical differences from his family, he learns the shocking truth that he is not only adopted but also part Comanche.

In this gripping tale, our protagonist faces the harsh realities of bullying within his school. Enduring endless taunting, he stoically accepts the torment until a crucial moment arises. Suddenly, the focus of their animosity shifts towards an alluring biracial girl named Jasmine. She is his friend, and their actions ignite a fierce protective instinct within him. Witnessing the cruelty unleashed upon her pushes him to his limit. In a truly impactful turn of events, both he and his prime tormentor, Todd, are compelled to confront their behavior and undergo a profound transformation.

Although his struggles with harassment persist in his Oklahoma school, our protagonist finds solace in learning how to better cope with the adversity and finds friends to align himself with. On the home front, his adoptive father, a successful doctor, harbors a secret life of infidelity, causing his mother, a homemaker, to worry incessantly.

He embraces his Comanche heritage and wants to know more about who he is and more about his biological parents. Daniel, with Jasmine's friends' help, discovers his mother's contact information. Daniel is thrilled and shocked that he has learned how to contact his birth mother. He finds she lives in San Francisco, CA, hundreds of miles away. With her contact information, Daniel delves into a quest for self-discovery.

A new neighbor sets off a chain of events that will shake Daniel's world. As his mother forms a remarkably close bond with the newcomer, Daniel begins to question the boundaries of their friendship. And soon, his adoptive parents' marriage teeters on the brink of collapse, leaving Daniel wondering if the turmoil around him is interconnected. 

Daniel faces a crumbling adoptive household and begins to find his birth mother. However, the reality of their encounter proves to be drastically different than what he had imagined. As his adoptive parents desperately search for him, he grapples with the question of where he truly belongs. Will he abandon the caregivers who have showered him with love and support, or will he embrace the opportunity to reconnect with his birth mother, who made the agonizing decision to place him for adoption? This poignant story delves into the tumultuous dynamics between children and the adults who were supposed to be their unwavering pillars of care.

With its emotionally charged narrative and timeless themes, Discovering Mom captivates readers and offers a compelling exploration of identity, resilience, and the complexities of family dynamics. This gripping tale is a must-read for anyone seeking a powerful story that lingers in the mind long after the final page.