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7 / 30 books. 23% done!

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27 / 165 books. 16% done!
Saturday, September 17, 2022

Warm-Hearted Adoption Novel Intimate, Insightful, and Discussion Worthy

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

A planner by nature (and profession), Tabitha Basnight is determined to turn her unconventional clan into a real family. She wants her 7-year-old twins to maintain a close bond with their biological siblings, even though the children are spread out between three different households. The families' frequent (but hurried) gatherings aren't enough for Tabitha, who longs for a close sisterhood with her fellow adoptive mothers. To that end, she has organized an activity-filled, two-week stay for the entire crew at a vacation home in Aspen, Colorado. Tabitha just knows the time together will finally cement the bonds between them in the rock solid way she's been dreaming of. 

Elizabeth Evans isn't quite as thrilled about her upcoming vacation. After five years of miscarriages and IVF treatments, she and her husband couldn't wait to adopt infant Violet. John is absolutely enthralled with fatherhood, but Elizabeth? Well, she kind of hates it. Weighed down by guilt, exhaustion, and heavy debt from her infertility treatments, Elizabeth is already on edge. How is she supposed to keep it together while in such close proximity to Tabitha, the perfect mother? 

Although Ginger Kowalski, an introverted technical writer, never intended to have children, she's delighted with her adoptive daughter. She's less enamored with Tabitha's determination to create one big, happy family. By living in a different city than the other parents, shy, private Ginger is able to keep a little bit of distance. She knows Tabitha doesn't agree with her choice and she's not looking forward to spending two weeks feeling suffocated and pressured by the bossy planner.  

When Brianna, the kids' flighty birthmother, calls to let the families know she's pregnant again, it lights a match to a fire already stoked with a dangerous mix of anxiety, resentment, guilt, jealousy, doubt, and feelings of inadequacy. Will the family be able to rise from the ashes of the ensuing inferno? Or will the vacation that was supposed to bond them forever tear them apart for good?

I hadn't heard of Any Other Family by Eleanor Brown before seeing it advertised at a local bookship with a note saying, "Everyone connected with adoption should read this book." I'm an adoptive mom who's always looking for a compelling read, so I picked the book up (from the library, because I'm also cheap). The story immediately sucked me in, not because it's action-packed, edge-of-your-seat kind of stuff, but because the characters are so relatable. I saw different elements of myself in each of the three moms at the center of the book. All three are complex, sympathetic, well-actualized characters. I cared about them, their children, and what was going to happen to their unique family. This is very much a character-based novel, but there's enough tension in the plot to keep things moving along. In fact, I zipped through Any Other Family in a day. It's a warm-hearted read that made me smile, sympathize, and think about adoption as a whole and about my experience with it in particular. The author is an adoptive mom herself, so the novel feels authentic, intimate, and very personal. Whatever your experience with adoption, Any Other Family is an engrossing, insightful book. I enjoyed it.

If you're looking for a book club read that asks discussion-worthy questions, look no further. Any Other Family explores lots of intriguing questions like: What makes a family? What (if anything) do adoptive parents owe to their child's birth family? What kind of adoption is healthiest for a child? How does being adopted affect a child's psyche and well-being? What questions are appropriate/inappropriate to ask an adoptive family? How does the experience of motherhood differ for each mother? No matter your own experience (or inexperience) with adoption, these are probing questions sure to inspire an interesting book club discussion.

(Readalikes: Reminds me of Far From the Tree by Robin Benway and How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

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Reading

<i>Reading</i>
Kill Her Twice by Stacey Lee

Listening

<i>Listening</i>
My Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, and Jodi Meadows



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