Books Reviews

Finding Karen Black

Image of the book Finding Karen Black by Diane Bay


Finding Karen Black takes you into the heart of the adoption experience with a celebrity twist.

In 1959, Karen Black gave up a newborn daughter for adoption. While Karen pursued a career in acting that took her from New York to Hollywood, her child Diane Bay grew up in a suburban neighborhood near Chicago. For five decades they knew nothing about each other. Then Illinois opened their sealed adoption records, and Diane sent for her original birth certificate. That same spring, battling cancer, Karen searched for her long-lost daughter.

When she received her records, Diane was amazed to discover that her birth mother was the actress whose unconventional beauty had captured the zeitgeist of the ’60s and ’70s cinema. Karen had starred in some of the decades’ prominent films including Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, Airport 1975, and more. Diane messaged Karen on Facebook, and Karen responded with joyful acceptance. Their reunion was healing but bittersweet, because it came at a pivotal moment: they had exactly one year to deepen their mother-daughter bond before Karen lost her battle with cancer.

Finding Karen Black: Roots Become Wings is a memoir that takes the reader on an emotional journey from childhood longing to dream fulfilled, and from the first moments of a joyful reunion through a year of discovery, loss, and renewal. This remarkable story is a testament to the power of the mother-child bond, the importance of our biological roots, and the belief that love lasts forever.


I didn’t know anything about Karen Black. When I saw her photo, she seemed familiar. I assume I must have seen her in some film. So, I started reading the book with an open mind, really unaware of anything else except what the blurb said.

I was slightly disappointed. I felt that it touched only the surface of what actually happened between Bay and Black.

It dragged in many places. It isn’t right that I comment on the book’s content but in those places, it seemed as though Bay was trying to ‘fill in the silences’ with her impressions or even imagination. Maybe a better, tighter edit would have helped?

That being said, I liked the book as a whole. People who know Karen Black may probably find it far more interesting than I did.

Note: I received a free copy of this book from BookSirens in exchange for an honest review.

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