This image shows the cover of Kate Troll’s new book, “All In Due Time: A Memoir of Siblings, Genealogy, Secrets and Love.” (Cirque Press)

This image shows the cover of Kate Troll’s new book, “All In Due Time: A Memoir of Siblings, Genealogy, Secrets and Love.” (Cirque Press)

New book tells story of growing family and admiration

Kate Troll’s memoir details discovery of siblings and new appreciation of her mother.

Kate Troll long suspected there was more to her family story than she knew — or her parents would tell — but it would be 35 years before the longtime Juneau resident was proven right.

Decades ago, while both seven months pregnant and renewing a passport, Troll, noticed an anomaly on her birth certificate. It listed a sibling — possibly a deceased sibling — at odds with accepted family history.

But gentle questioning proved futile, Troll said, as the circumstances surrounding her parents’ marriage were a “totally taboo” topic. Ostensibly that was because the union was spurred by the out-of-wedlock conception of her brother, Tim, which her Catholic parents found shameful.

“We didn’t want to cause pain,” Troll said of the decision not to press her parents on the matter. “That’s why things laid dormant until my daughter’s DNA test.”

That 23andMe test taken a few years ago wouldn’t just yank on that hanging thread, it would unravel secrets Troll’s mother, Mary, took to her grave, ultimately revealing a complicated truth. Troll had two full-blooded siblings — a brother and sister, both alive — previously unknown to Troll as well as to each other.

[Pure Sole: A remembrance of my mother]

This voyage of familial discovery is the focus of Troll’s new book, “All In Due Time: A Memoir of Siblings, Genealogy, Secrets and Love,” which details the unexpected growth of a tightknit group that calls itself the Troll tribe while also touching on wide-ranging topics such as inherited traits, philosophy, history and the impact of birth order.

A book signing will be held on June 2 for First Friday at Hearthside Books, which will also sell the memoir published by the Anchorage-based Cirque Press.

“It was a total Hollywood story twist that I did not see coming at all,” Troll said, in an interview on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. “That’s what kind of makes it a natural story to write, because I’m just relaying the natural events as they occurred.”

Troll, who has served as executive director of the nation’s largest fishing organization and as a local elected official, said discovering, and later meeting, her siblings, James and Sally, was an experience that was both surreal and ultimately fulfilling. In the memoir, Troll writes of meeting two well-adjusted, caring adults who seem to have a genetic predisposition for compassion and service. However, she said she was prepared for a less-than-ideal outcome.

“Emotionally I had to set myself to be prepared to meet someone who had a tragic life and it would have been heart-rending,” Troll said. “As I’ve said to people, when you do the DNA test it should come with a warning that it may be hazardous to your emotional health.”

In Troll’s case the opposite proved true as she found a “new brother” and “new sister” with whom she has made new memories.

“The story I have shows that seeking unknown relatives can also be beneficial to your emotional health,” Troll said. “But people should go into it with very open eyes.”

The experience has also changed how Troll views her parents — especially her mother.

While Troll’s knowledge of the exact circumstances surrounding the births of her older brother and sister is incomplete — a DNA test can’t fill in the gaps of who knew what and when — what she’s learned has instilled in her a greater appreciation for her mother.

Troll said if she had the chance to talk to her mother since learning about her additional siblings, she would have a message of thanks.

“I would tell her that the more I discovered about her secret past, the more my admiration and empathy for you has grown,” Troll said. “I used to think I got a lot of my personal strength from my father, but it was from her. Thank you for giving me my strength, and my admiration for you has grown tenfold greater or more.”

Know & Go

What: A book signing for “All In Due Time: A Memoir of Siblings, Genealogy, Secrets and Love,”

When: Friday, June 2.

Where: Hearthside Books, 2 Marine Way, Suite 119.

Contact Ben Hohenstatt at bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com or (907)308-4895. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.

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