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Resilience and Belonging in Publishing: A Memoirist’s Tale by Stephanie G. Hlavin

Stephanie G. Hlavin’s journey is a testament to resilience and the search for belonging. From experiencing profound loss at a young age to embarking on a quest to find her biological father, her story is one of incredible odds and personal discovery.

Adopted as an infant, Stephanie’s life was marked by tragedy when, by the age of 14, she lost her entire family in bizarre car accidents. Left alone with an abusive stepmother, she longed for a sense of belonging that eluded her.

In her 30s, Stephanie sought out her biological mother but felt no connection. Newly divorced in her 40s, she embarked on a journey to find her biological father, unaware of the twists fate had in store.

Discovering her father in New York City, Stephanie’s fairy tale expectations were shattered when his attention waned after purchasing the Big Apple Circus. Devastated yet resilient, Stephanie confronted uncomfortable truths and discovered that true belonging resided within herself.

Through vivid and honest storytelling, Hlavin shares her journey with humor and poignancy, celebrating the hope and strength of a young girl and her courageous quest for identity.

“What Took You So Long” is more than a tale of loss; it is a celebration of humanity’s resilience and the realization that true belonging is found within oneself.


In her memoir, “What Took You So Long?“, the author reflects on the poignant question posed by her biological father during their first conversation.

While acknowledging the sadness of her narrative, she emphasizes its absurdity, timeliness, and relatability, drawing parallels to the quest for identity and belonging on social media.

Drawing inspiration from works like “The Glass Castle,” “Wild,” “Grief is For People,” and “Forager,” as well as a particular song, she offers compelling comparisons that enrich the understanding of her story.

Highlighting the cinematic potential of her memoir, she underscores the unbelievable yet true nature of her experiences, from the contrast of characters to her father’s unexpected wealth and acquisition of a circus.

Expressing the significance of her background, she invites readers to take a chance on her story, suggesting its resonance with individuals from various walks of life, including parents, adoptees, and those who have experienced feelings of isolation or adversity.


Here’s an extract of the elevator pitch for What Took You So Long?:

” Old enough to have her period but not yet a driver’s license, Stephanie was an expert in loss. The kind of loss that comes with no warning and not just once. The disorienting kind of loss that requires constant vigilance, for fear it will happen again.

This is the against-all-odds story of Stephanie Hlavin. Adopted as an infant, by the time she was 14 years old, none of her family was left — each of them killed in bizarre car accidents. First, her mother and brother, snatched like the rapture when she was six; her father, eight years later. One moment, here; the next, gone forever.

Left with an abusive stepmother, Stephanie was alone, wrapped in a coat of deep longing that she could not take off. Not until she found where and to whom she belonged.

After meeting her biological mother in her 30s, but feeling no ‘click in her heart,’ now in her 40s and newly divorced, Stephanie set out to find her biological father — a man who did not know she existed.

When she did find him, little did Stephanie know that the fairy tale she’d concocted would come true. NYC! Jewish! A surgeon! Wealthy and worldly! Broadway shows, fancy French dinners, shopping and makeovers at Bergdorfs!

But once her father bought the Big Apple Circus, she was no longer the object of his attention and what she’d dared to believe would not happen, did: the acceptance and belonging she finally had found slipped away.

Devastated, Stephanie would have to face uncomfortable truths. And when she did, she would discover that the belonging she’d been so desperate to find did not reside with her father or anyone else. Rather, she would find it existed in no place she had thought to look.

With vivid, poetic and honest language, Hlavin shares a powerful and often humorous, moving story of incredible odds and loss.

But Hlavin’s story is not solely about loss. What Took You So Long celebrates the hope and strength of an imaginative and lonely young girl and her courageous journey as an adult to find what so many of us yearn for.

What Took You So Long is a testament and celebration of resilience and humanity. It tells the tale of what happens when we realize true belonging is found nowhere but in our own skin. ”


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