Monday, October 30, 2023

Any Other Family

Any Other Family
  Any Other Family
Author:  Eleanor Brown
Publication Information:  G. P. Putnam's Sons. 2022. 368 pages.
ISBN:  059332854X / 978-0593328545

Rating:  ★★★

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "They look like any other family."

Favorite Quote:  "Whether it was fate that made them family or the dumb luck of the universe, they are here now, and they are going to go forward together."

To understand this book, perhaps start with the author's note. The author is an adoptive parent and has learned about the world of adoption through their personal journey.. "There are a thousand topics related to adoption I could not even begin to fit into this novel. Most notable is the absence of the biological family's and children's sides of the story, but I also had to sidestep central issues of race and class, foster care, mental health, international relations, access to reproductive healthcare and information ... I could go on for pages... My greatest hope with this book is not that I have written a complete exploration of adoption - that would be impossible - but that I have helped open space for us to think about the way we create families, the trust we put in each other, the experience of parenting, and what adoption means and can look like, even as all that continues to develop and change."

This story is of a family - "a family formed by three sets of parents who adopted from the same group of biological siblings." Brianna and Justin have an on again off again relationship, more off than on. However, each "on" segment seems to result in a pregnancy. At the start of the book, there are four children:
  • Phoebe has been adopted by single mother Ginger.
  • Twins Tate and Taylor has been adopted by Tabitha and Perry.
  • Baby Violet is adopted by Elizabeth and John.
Brianna, the birth mother, is part of their lives. The three families have tried as best as possible to create a single, larger family such that the siblings can be part of each other lives. This includes dinners togethers, family holidays, and family vacations. The children appear relatively well adjusted. Per the author's note, the children's experience is clearly not the focus of the book.

The plot of this book is set on a family vacations and the fact that baby number 5 is coming. Again, as the author's note indicates, this book is not about how or why baby number 5 is coming. This book is also not really plot driven.

It is more about the characters. The men are present in the story, but this is really the story of the women. As with any other family (see what I did there), this one has its strengths and its cracks. Ginger loves Phoebe. She appreciates the extended family for the most part but misses her solitude and independence. Tabitha wishes for and works to make everything perfect even though that is an impossible standard; she tries to be the glue that holds the family together. With a new baby in the house, Elizabeth is exhausted and overwhelmed and unsure that she even wants to be a mother. Postpartum depression, perhaps, as an adoptive mother?

Going back and forth between the perspective of these women, the book tells the story of family and the love and hard work that holds a family - any family - together. Interspersed with the family's story are brief write-ups from what appear to be applications from prospective parents. Each includes some background and why they wish to adopt. The longing in each one of these tugs at the heartstrings. As a parent myself, I relate to both the love and the work, and I appreciate the my improved understanding of the open adoption process.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment