Other Peoples Children

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What is true parental love – in its purest form – and what is actually narcissism, loneliness, vanity, fear of the emptiness left by our own unfulfilled parenting? Does it matter why we love our children as long as we do? What does it take to spin this love into the fabric of a family? How far are we willing to go to preserve our families, however tenuous those links may sometimes feel ?

The characters in this lovely book grapple with those very questions, (some of them with more self-awareness than others).

  • Gail and Jon, a thirty-something professional couple in Illinois, who, after several miscarriages, have lost all hope of conceiving a child, – a fact which has settled its dull weight over their marriage, obscuring their feeling of the “rightness” of their lives, crushing their ability to take comfort in each other.
  • Carli, an isolated and insecure eighteen year old who is pregnant and fears she is not ready to face the thought of motherhood.
  • Marla, Carli’s bitter, vindictive and tough-as-nails mother, who has alienated her own grown children, and longs for a chance to try again.
  • Paige, a greying hippie social worker, the only major character who at first appears to have no real emotional parental axe to grind. Paige does her best to remain objective and tries to do the right thing for all.

The plot takes off when Carli’s baby is born – eight pounds of sweetness, with cheeks like “rose petals and suede” – and not unexpectedly, what little emotional balance each of the family-seeking-protagonists has been struggling to maintain now topples completely, triggering an avalanche of desperate and ethically questionable behavior.

Beautifully written, this modern morality tale weaves itself into your heart – allowing these characters to get under your skin until you care for them, feel with them, and can (almost) understand the lengths they are willing to go through to fill the gaping holes that their own flawed childhoods have left each of them struggling with.

I loved this book, (and found myself wanting to hug and kiss my children just a little bit longer upon completing it).

A great big thank you to the author for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts presented are my own.


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