Here at IML we absolutely love hearing you talk about your families, and it's clear that while every family is different, the big things are pretty much the same for everyone. Just take a look at any You Said It page in our Family section, and you're bound to find a post that makes you think, "Yes! It's the same at my house!"
We were excited to check out "My So-Called Family" by Courtney Sheinmel (Simon & Schuster). This book was originally released in hardcover last fall, but the paperback edition will be available on September 15, 2009. It's a story that asks the question "What makes a family?" -- a question that forces us to look at how different families can look similar when it comes to what's important.
In "My So-Called Family," thirteen-year-old Leah is different. Her friends at her new school in New York have two parents, but she knows her father only as Donor 730 -- his identity in the Lyon's Reproductive Services catalog. Leah has a loving family, including a mother, a step-dad and a half-brother, but when her brother gets an assignment from school to draw a family tree, Leah realizes she wants to learn more about her own roots...setting off a chain of events that lead to an exciting discovery: she has a slew of half-siblings, including a girl close to her own age. She's willing to do anything to meet them, even if it means keeping her new family a secret from her mom.
While Leah's situation might be unusual, her quest to find -- and define -- her family leads her to issues we can all relate to, like trying to fit in, navigating a new school, and feeling lonely... not to mention her changing relationship with her mom and the changes her body is going through. We particularly enjoyed Leah's relationship with her five-year-old brother, and her friends' relationships with their siblings provide interesting contrast to Leah's. With writing that's fast-paced and funny, Sheinmel will keep you turning pages until you finally find out how Leah will reconcile her biological family with the family she's grown up with.
IML's Rating: A-