Replacement Child by Judy Mandel

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Replacement Child by Judy Mandel discusses an interesting concept that I wasn’t previously aware of: replacing a dead child with a newly birthed or adopted one.

That’s right.  Judy Mandel’s family, before she was born, suffered from a tragedy.  An airplane crashed into their home, killing Judy’s older sister while severely burning her other sister Linda.

Judy was birthed as a replacement child for Linda.

The story sounds compelling, and in actuality, it is a compelling tale.  However, there were three story lines to follow:

1. The day of the crash (compelling)

2. Judy’s life growing up (interesting)

3. Judy’s day as she is writing this memoir (not sure why that’s included, it took away from the story)

The story itself is intriguing, sad, and amazing.  Yet, I don’t think it was told that way.

I spoke to my mom about the story, and she said she grew up with someone who was the replacement child.  It was totally new to me.

Do you know of this occurring?



18 thoughts on “Replacement Child by Judy Mandel

  1. Wait…so a child dies, the parents decide to have another child, and that child is labeled a “replacement child”? Wow. I’m definitely not a fan of THAT label. Do the parents of these children use that label, too? I have so many questions.


    • YES!!!! That’s the label.

      But thankfully, no, it’s not like Replacement Child was Judy’s nickname.

      But it’s something that kind of invisibly followed Judy throughout her life, until she was old enough to discover the term. And now she is able to actually figure out and work through the issues of being the replacement child.


  2. I know of women who have miscarriages and feel the pain is lessened to get pregnant ASAP to replace the loss. Having never been in that situation, I can’t imagine the sense of loss a parent would feel. I guess a new baby would be a distraction from the pain – but would it be healing? And what would that poor child feel when or if they understood?

    Did the sister Linda die? She was severely burned, still alive, and replaced? It gives me a sick feeling.


      • Just as sickening. When I’ve heard of people losing a child I’ve thought what if it happened to me? And the next time someone asked me how many kids I have I couldn’t say three and yet I had three kids. If I had another, I’d want to say four. That fourth child wouldn’t magically allow me to say three again…he/she would be his/her own person and my lost child would still be lost and missed. I can’t fathom it.


        • It is pretty sickening and sad and kind of scary, too. I talked to my mom about it and she knew someone who grew up like that. In this book, Judy’s mom wanted another child to replace Donna, but her father didn’t, which is why I think Judy had a tougher childhood. It could have been a lot worse, for sure, but it doesn’t sound very healthy for Judy to grow up in Donna’s shadow.


  3. Before I read your reply to Heather I was thinking I’d heard of people wanting another child say to help a sick one, but this particular situation sounds cruel, to the one who is the replacement. Kinda hoping this book makes her important in her own right.


    • Judy does end up being able to come to terms with her position in the family. I don’t think it’s something she can ever get over, and it affected her throughout her life, especially in her relationships with men (not feeling wanted, etc)


  4. It’s a sad concept – even if you the child aren’t labelled that way, they might be aware of it. This reminds me a bit of My Sister’s Keeper – Anna might not have been the “replacement child” but she definitely was born/planned with the sole purpose to preserve Kate’s life 😦


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