Book Launch for Maria Heckinger’s Beyond the Third Door
Thursday, August 22, 2019
1015 Main Street
Vancouver, WA 98660
Join us on August 22 for an event to celebrate the publication of Maria Heckinger’s astounding memoir debut, Beyond the Third Door. The author will be present to read from and sign copies of her new book.
Maria Heckinger’s memoir Beyond the Third Door tells an incredible story which straddles the fine line between blind luck and unexplained miracles. On a Greek island in 1952, 15-year-old Hariklea’s life is changed in an instant. Sent by her father to a doctor on the mainland, the girl discovers she is pregnant. Given the social taboos of the time, Hariklea is exiled to the streets of Patras where she gives birth to her child in the most difficult of circumstances. 30 years later, carrying a handful of papers to translate, the orphaned child returns to Greece. Through sheer serendipity, Maria finds her birth mother, a woman with many secrets. What happens after their coincidental reunion makes this a story like no other.
Maria Heckinger was born in Patras, Greece and raised in San Diego, California. She moved to Vancouver, Washington in 1981 where she lives with her husband Matt. After a 31-year career in elementary and middle school education, she enjoys spending time with friends and her very extended family.
“In the early summer of 1956, feisty three-year-old Maria was put on a plane from Greece to New York. The long flight and frequent stops knocked out all the physical and mental energy that the little Greek girl had left, and she arrived sick and helpless at the other end. Until then and for many more years to come, all life-changing decisions were made for her. But Maria took back agency, traveled back to Greece and reconnected with her biological family in Patras. The moving and occasionally humorous story of becoming a well-rounded, mature individual with a completed identity had to be told, and it had to be told by the person who lived it and who took charge again of her life and quest. Maria’s book speaks in her own unique voice to the many issues of the adoptee identity interrupted. Her book opens up a dialogue for and with all those who have experienced something similar but may not yet have found the words—or may not yet have embarked on the adventure of the quest. As a researcher studying the Greek postwar adoptions, I welcome Maria’s rich and courageous testimony wholeheartedly and encourage others to follow her path.”
Professor Gonda Van Steen, Koraes Chair of Modern Greek and Byzantine History, Language and Literature, King’s College London, author of Adoption, Memory, and Cold War Greece: Kid pro quo? (University of Michigan Press, 2019).
“Half a continent separates us now, but there was a time when Maria and I were mere yards apart. I have known her all my life, but I didn’t realize it until our paths crossed nearly 62 years later. Maria and I were orphans together in the Patras Municipal Orphanage that created a bond that may get lost but is never broken. Her story is my story; it is the story of some 3,500 other Greek orphans from the 1950s and 60s. Before I started my search, I thought I was alone. Maria’s courage to tell her story lets us know we are not alone and gives hope to those of us still searching. It is good to have reconnected with my friend.”
Merrill Jenkins, Patras adoptee
“Maria Heckinger is a force of nature with a heartwarming story so miraculous that it would not seem out-of-place in a work of fiction. I had the great privilege of watching as her manuscript developed over time in my memoir writing class, and the great joy of editing an earlier version of it. You will be heartbroken to learn the story of young Hariklea, a girl whose station in Greek society led to her being powerless as the most crucial decision of one’s life was made on her behalf. You will be captivated by Maria’s anguish, heroism, and perseverance as she searches for answers regarding the circumstances of her birth. You will be inspired by her journey from despair to peace and understanding. Maria Heckinger’s story will give hope to those adopted children and birth mothers who live with an ongoing sense of loss.”
Christopher Luna, Editor, Writing Coach and Co-Founder of Printed Matter Vancouver/ Memoir Writing Instructor