Any Other Family reveals the heart of adoption

Any Other Family by Eleanor Brown (GP Putnam’s Sons)

What does it mean to be a family? That is the central question in Eleanor Brown’s new novel Any Other Family.

With three sets of parents who together adopted four biological siblings from the same mother, the story takes place during a two-week vacation in Aspen, Colorado. Tabitha, the new family’s chief architect and adoptive mother to twins Tate and Taylor, is determined to create a stable environment for the children. They all live relatively close to each other and host Sunday family dinners and holiday celebrations together. However, this is their first two-week vacation as a family and there is tension from the start.

Elizabeth, the youngest of the mothers with youngest adopted daughter Violet, is showing classic signs of postpartum depression. Her journey through the novel includes realizing that this can happen to adoptive mothers just as easily as it does to mothers who have given birth. After years of unsuccessful fertility treatments, she and her husband John met Tabitha by accident (literally when Elizabeth Tabitha’s car ran into it) and are suddenly adoptive parents before taking time to grieve for all the embryos they lost during IVF .

Ginger is an elderly single mother to the eldest sibling, Phoebe. She is suspicious of the forced family relationship, but partly because of what emerges during the two-week vacation, she comes to appreciate the family’s support.

Tabitha is the classic mother hen who organizes all the activities, cooks or serves the food and does everything to keep the family together, even if the other mothers sometimes tease her zeal.

There are several references to Brianna, the birth mother of all the children, and the central plot of the novel is set in motion by a phone call. Brianna is pregnant again and wants to give them the opportunity to adopt their fifth biological child. But Brianna’s story is not the focus of the novel. Brown is interested in the dynamics of the nascent modern family that created them and the bonds mothers made that are beginning to crumble. She writes in the prologue, “Their way of becoming a family is strange…though stranger than any other way people form families based on things no more scientific than the coincidences of genetics…or simply looks.” of someone to like on a certain Tuesday night? At least they have a purpose, a reason to stick together, a common cause: the children who love them as much as any parent, maybe even more.”

The author’s note at the end of the novel reveals that Brown is an adoptive mother herself, and it is evident from the story she wrote that she thinks deeply about the subject. Genuine empathy is inscribed in each character, and the novel serves as a heartfelt endorsement for open adoption when both birth and adoptive parents play roles in a child’s life. The book won’t appeal to everyone, but readers who appreciate fiction that shows them how others live will enjoy the heart of Any Other Family.

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