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Book Club Kits: The Gift Best Given

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Book Summary

“Like a jigsaw puzzle, every story is made up of pieces; big ones, smaller ones, pieces not easily found, tiny and hiding, essential to complete the picture.”


At almost seventy years old, Edward Di Gangi had never given much thought to the fact he was adopted.  However, a cemetery visit and a book about a favorite author’s search for lost family suddenly compel him to embark on a genealogical quest to discover his origins. As he digs deeper, he begins to piece together the life story of an extraordinary woman—his birth mother.


Far from being the ordinary woman that Di Gangi had envisioned, Genevieve Knorowski was an aspiring “artista” who left home at the age of seventeen in the midst of World War II to join an ice-skating company in Vancouver.  Journeying alone by train across the continent from New York, Genevieve would go on to achieve fame as an ice show performer, skating in the United States, Central and South America, and across Europe. However, it is a decision Genevieve makes on Easter Sunday in a church on New York City’s Upper West Side that will forever connect the life of a young woman pursuing her dreams with the life of a seventy-year-old man searching for answers to the lifelong questions of who we are, where we come from, and what family means.

Discussion Questions

  1. In 1948, Genevieve kept her pregnancy and the subsequent adoption of her child a secret. Could she have don that in 2022 in an age of social media?
  2. How would the book have played out differently in a different time period or setting that included Roe vs Wade?
  3. Did you relate to the story on a personal level? How?
  4. What feeling did this book evoke in you?
  5. Are there any quotes, passages, or scenes you found particularly compelling?
  6. Were there times you disagreed with a character’s actions? What would you have done differently?
  7. Which places described in the book would you like most to visit?
  8. Which character would you most like to meet in real life?
  9. Which actors would you cast in a film adaptation of the book?
  10. What is the significance of the title? Did you find it meaningful, why or why not?
  11. If you could talk to the author, what burning question would you want to ask?
  12. Do you have a new perspective as a result of reading this book?


Edward Di Gangi was adopted at birth in New York City. An only child, he made no effort to explore his heredity until, at age 69, a visit to a cemetery where members of his adoptive mother's family were buried stirred his interest.

Over the past three years, through extensive archival research and DNA testing, Ed has peeled back the layers of his once unknown family.

Set in the 1940s, as America emerged from the Great Depression and went to war,  Ed's book, The Gift Best Given, recounts the search for his family and tells the story of a young woman's courage as she overcame obstacles to achieve her dreams. 

Ed and his wife, Linda, live in Hillsborough, North Carolina.  Their son, James and his wife, Renee, live in nearby Durham.