December 07, 2006

A Regular Family, Falling Apart

This book is a 2006 Cybil Award Nominee for YA Fiction.

Psychologists talk about the deep relationship that sons have with their mothers, how it is a hard bond of love that is unlike even the bond sons have with their fathers. It is a special kind of love, and Nicholas Nathaniel Thomas Tyler -- a kid with four names and two Moms -- is lucky to have it -- as lucky as any kid. But what happens when you're only legally connected to one Mom -- and then your Moms split up?

Basically, what happens is what happens to every other kid whose parents divorce. Nicky bleeds. He goes, in his eyes, from having had everything to having nothing, and no one to whom he can turn. Impetuous, playful, crazy Jo has been his mainstay, his idol, his whole life. His biological mother - careful, prudent, thoughtful - is also loved, but she isn't who Nick wants to be like. Who's going to smack him upside the head when he cusses? Who's going to have lightning flash in her eyes and stride out to fight for him when things go wrong and he gets teased -- or pushed aside -- at school? Who's going to tell him everything about everything, and always tell him the truth, even as she deals with her own dragons? Once Jo is gone, it seems like there's nobody left for Nick. What's worse is that Nick's birth mother, Erin, absolutely refuses to let him see his other mother, and her new girlfriend has moved in -- the one who's allergic to animals. Stuck Between Mom and Jo, Nicky's feeling like he has to choose. He can't. He falls into a debilitating depression, losing everything but the ability to yearn for who he has lost. When his beloved fish can't even interest him, his mothers finally intervene -- almost too late -- and choose for him.

Wrenching and honest, this could be a story about any family -- and what happens when families falls apart. An excellent depiction of some of the similarities and challenges of same-sex families, this is a true 'family' story, no matter what kind of parents one has.

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