We Are Family: The Modern Transformation of Parents and Children

PublicAffairs: Perseus. Oct. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781541758643. $28. SOC SCI
Research driven and wide ranging in scope, this newest book by Golombok (Centre for Family Research, Univ. of Cambridge; Modern Families) details nontraditional family structures and explores why transforming our collective understanding of families matters for us all. In many ways, the book proposes something much like what historians argue related to the rise of the family in early modern England: that structures are social constructions, without meaning until we create that meaning. Golombok reworks domestic narratives to show the family as a structure with plasticity enough to encompass relationships divested from rigid or fixed categories of gender and sexuality and that “children can flourish in all kinds of new family forms.” Using firsthand interviews, the author shows the evolution of the modern family in the United States and the UK. From IVF and donor relationships to lesbian, gay, trans, and single-parent households, the narrative spotlights broad data sets and specific case studies. Especially insightful are interviews with sperm donors, some of whom have maintained contact with biological children and others who long to but are unable, for various reasons.
VERDICT An essential, thought-provoking work that will serve as the foundation for future studies.
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