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  • Rock Needs River

  • A Memoir About a Very Open Adoption
  • Written by: Vanessa McGrady
  • Narrated by: Vanessa McGrady
  • Length: 5 hrs and 35 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Rock Needs River cover art

Rock Needs River

Written by: Vanessa McGrady
Narrated by: Vanessa McGrady
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Publisher's Summary

From a story first told in the popular New York Times parenting blog comes a funny, touching memoir about a mother who welcomes more than a new daughter into her home.

After two years of waiting to adopt - slogging through paperwork and bouncing between hope and despair - a miracle finally happened for Vanessa McGrady. Her sweet baby, Grace, was a dream come true. Then Vanessa made a highly uncommon gesture: when Grace’s biological parents became homeless, Vanessa invited them to stay.

Without a blueprint for navigating the practical basics of an open adoption or any discussion of expectations or boundaries, the unusual living arrangement became a bottomless well of conflicting emotions and increasingly difficult decisions complicated by missed opportunities, regret, social chaos, and broken hearts.

Written with wit, candor, and compassion, Rock Needs River is, ultimately, Vanessa’s love letter to her daughter, one that illuminates the universal need for connection and the heroine’s journey to find her tribe.

©2019 Vanessa McGrady. (P)2018 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

What the critics say

“The love McGrady feels toward Grace, whom she has dedicated the book and her life to, is the sweet layer of frosting on top on a multilayered cake. An expressive and love-filled tale of adoption and of befriending the biological parents of the adopted child.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Moving…McGrady’s memoir is a touching and honest adoption story.” (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Rock Needs River

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

really beautiful story

As someone who wants to adopt a kid solo, this was a great book. Really grateful for this perspective!

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  • dusti
  • 2019-02-26

A story of Self Absorption

The the self centered ramblings of a 40 something adolescent interspersed with pop pschology, mythology, and bad assumptuons. If I hadn't been driving with this as my only listening option I wouldn't have wasted my time. Kept waiting for it to get better...no such luck!

10 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
  • TVaddicted
  • 2019-02-15

Adopting Grace and Orienting Birth Parents

Vanessa adopts Gracie who becomes the love of her life. Her birth parents who don't want the responsibility of a permanent residence or to go thru the process to obtain one, become a problem in her parenting of Grace, her husband Peter also throw some problems in the process. Parenting is never easy, but Vanessa faces some real challenges head on to help Grace become a well adjusted child.


3 people found this helpful

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  • E. Robinson
  • 2019-06-17

Well Written

In ”Rock Needs River”, Vanessa McGrady describes her experiences surrounding their adoption of Grace. Had no idea the complexities of adoption!
Her story is compelling. I recommend it for anyone who was adopted, contemplates adoption, wants to put a child up for adoption, or knows anyone like that.

2 people found this helpful

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  • M. Bacon
  • 2019-03-26

Sorry, but I didn't like it

I love the concept of adoption. I love the idea of open adoptions. I did not like this story. The words were crafted okay, and there were a few bright points. But most of it was... well, not what I liked. Also, I don't mean this as a personal attack at all, but I did not enjoy the author's voice. It reminded me of the blonde character from the Two Broke Girls TV show, and so it kept annoying me because of that.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Beth Newman
  • 2019-04-13

An adoption story

The book for focused more on the author’s early life than I would’ve preferred but it still ended well and I’m glad that I read it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • LoP
  • 2019-04-03

honest and emotional

honest and emotional Vanessa walks us through her journey into motherhood and all of the mixed emotions that come with an open adoption.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Donnamay
  • 2022-10-27

What’s the point?

I listened to 3 chapters waiting for something to happen, something interesting and for me to quit being bored. Realized I was supposed to be enjoying my time listening to this story, NOT. I read the summary about her taking in a child and then the birth parents, interesting concept. Why do I need to know every one she hooked up with from teenage to ….when is something going to happen. The narrator is reading and pronouncing each word wonderfully but somehow is just monotone. Perhaps some day when I am really desperate for something to listen to I will try again.,…

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  • Michelle
  • 2022-04-04

Wonderful!!


Really enjoyed the authors complete openness, vulnerability & Clear descriptions. Very enjoyable story, even if I did cry I couple of times 😊

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  • Gail M. Johnson
  • 2020-05-04

Not what I expected

A rather mundane and somewhat lethargic story. The narrator was not engaging and it seemed that she was reading the story under duress.
There was more of a story about the adoptive mother prior to the actual adoption than there was about the the whole adoption itself. Do not waste you time on this book!

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  • Lindsay
  • 2020-01-17

Informative, touching, beautifully written!

This is a worthwhile listen for anyone interested in adoption or parenthood in general. The author’s warm, maternal voice made me feel like I was listening to a good friend’s story about their complicated journey to becoming a parent. She brought all the characters vividly to life. And, like any great true story, there are surprising twists that prove once again that the truth can be stranger than fiction. I cried at the end.