Any Other Family

Putnam’s Sons. Jul. 2022. 368p. ISBN 9780593328545. $27. F
Best-selling novelist Brown (The Light of Paris) tackles a knotty issue—what constitutes a family—through the emotions of three adoptive mothers. Tabitha and husband Perry adopt birth mother Brianna’s twins when Brianna can’t take care of them. It’s all on the up-and-up with social workers, a judge, and Brianna, so when Brianna gives birth to Phoebe, a single woman named Ginger adopts this baby. Brianna’s husband Justin comes home long enough to give Brianna another baby, Violet, who is adopted by Elizabeth and John. This family arrangement is unique—Brianna’s children are raised as siblings by three different sets of parents, with everyone joining in playtime, birthday parties, and Sunday dinners. Tabitha, ever the organizer, arranges a two-week stay at an Aspen, CO, vacation rental so the families can relax together. The rosy picture dims, first with Ginger’s angry tirade at interfering Tabitha, who claims she only wants to help Ginger with Phoebe’s private school education. Then Elizabeth has a meltdown at the spa lunch, scorching Tabitha for insisting that she and John adopt Brianna’s new baby on the way when in fact John has been laid off. Are friendly solutions possible in the remaining days of vacation before their family collapses?
VERDICT Brown pulls no punches as she explores adoption and the experience of parenting in this intensely emotional novel, thought-provoking to the last page.
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