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Archive for the ‘Divorce’ Category

Imagine, if you will, a divorce so acrimonious that the divorcees no longer can be in the same room with each other. Add to that second marriages and a child from each of those, in addition to the three children from the initial marriage. The childrens’ relationships to each other are complicated.

TheWholeThingTogether

One more wrinkle, a shared second home purchased by wife 1’s father but saved from foreclosure by husband 1. Every weekend is a transition from one family to the next, with only the first three daughters staying the whole time. Again, never the twain shall meet.

Ann Brashares, author of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, has written a unique book, touching on many of the issues surrounding divorce and second marriages, the primary being divorced spouses avoiding each other at all costs and the impact on all the children and their relationships to each other. There are subplots which enhance the story and which I’ll let you discover for yourselves.

The issues raised in this book are probably not uncommon among divorced families. The habitation of a second home may be unusual but it does not detract from the issues raised. Brashares takes both a serious and a humorous look at divorce. I expected something more light and fluffy from Ms. Brashares and was pleasantly surprised by The Whole Thing Together.

While I’d consider Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants to be more ‘chick lit’, The Whole Thing Together is much more substantial. I’d definitely go for this one. You won’t be disappointed.

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Another “my parents are divorced and getting remarried” book. In this instance, twelve-year-old Elizabeth (Fizzy) and her mother move out of the family home. Fizzy is a normal pre-teen, other than being a talented chef hoping to have her own television show one day. The simultaneous news that her father and his new wife, Suzanne, are expecting a baby and her mother plans on marrying her boyfriend, Keene, is an unwelcome jolt to Fizzy. With a new baby and a new husband taking all her parents’ emotions, Fizzy feels like leftovers—nobody likes them. Her only confidante is her father’s sister, Aunt Liz. Aunt Liz, a talented chef in her own right, suggests Fizzy enter the Southern Living Cook-Off. Fizzy readily agrees to prove to a doubting Keene that she can win and in the hopes that winning a major competition might make her dysfunctional family love her again.

TheThingAbout Leftovers

The Thing About Leftovers by C.C. Payne is a fun read about a serious topic. Blended families are prevalent and pre-teens and teens need to realize that, although their parents may be focusing their attentions on new families, it is not to the exclusion of the old ones. In addition, step-parents can love their step-children if given the chance. Learning to adjust to step-parents’ idiosyncrasies can be daunting. Having a support person, as Fizzy has in Aunt Liz, can make the transition easier. Children of blended families will relate to Fizzy’s thoughts and emotions. A thought provoking read for parents and children.

 

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ReturningToShoreReturning to Shore by Corinne Demas may be the sleeper book of the year, except I’m not sure if it’s the sleeper for adults or teens. While Clare’s mother, Vera, is on her honeymoon with Tertiary (Clare’s name for Vera’s third husband), Clare is sent to spend three weeks with her father, Richard, in Cape Cod. However, Clare hasn’t seen and has barely heard from him since she was three years old.

As you can imagine, Clare is dreading the visit and wishes that she could spend the three weeks either with her Aunt Eva or Peter, Vera’s second husband and a man Clare considers her father. However, it is not to be.

Since Eva doesn’t drive over bridges, Richard meets them at a service center just before the bridge onto the Cape where Eva drops Clare and heads to Maine. It is an awkward meeting for all concerned and the drive to the remote island on which Richard lives is quiet.

The first problem Clare faces is what to call Richard: Dad, Rich, Richard? What we do know is that Richard has made enough money through an internet startup that he need not work. He spends his time studying endangered turtles.

It is over the course of the following three weeks, as they start studying the turtles together,  that Clare and Richard learn about each other.

I said in the beginning that I’m not sure if Returning to Shore is a sleeper book for adults or teens. While there are many teens who have minimal contact with a parent and vice versa, I’m not sure if a teen will relate to the situation. They would certainly relate to Clare as a person. (I may be wrong on this and would love to hear other opinions.) However, I think the many fathers out there who have reconnected to their children after years of estrangement will relate wholeheartedly to Richard.

As a father who is in constant touch with my daughters, I found the story to be heart warming. I loved everything about it. It’s short (196 pages) and a fast read (one day) but it is filled with love of a parent for a child, a child for a parent and that special bond, especially between a father and a daughter.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say this will be included on my 2014 Top Ten list and highly recommend Returning to Shore as your next feel-good, put a smile on my face book. As Ms. Demas spends summers on Cape Cod, I will be looking for her books at Where the Sidewalk Ends in Chatham come next July.

 

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I love Joan Bauer. I liked her books from way back, but after hearing her speak just about a year ago, I love her even more. She is vibrant, vivacious, purposeful and she’s a good storyteller, apparently coming from a family of storytellers. So, when I saw a random copy of Stand Tall, I figured it was worth reading…and I was right.

Twelve-year-old Tree has a complicated life. He’s the tallest seventh grader at Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School, weighing in at 6′ 7″ (that equates to a size 16 shoe, if you’re intersted). He’s not good at sports, even though everyone thinks a 6′ 7″ kid is a born athlete. His parents are recently divorced and they have shared custody so he (and the school) needs a color coded schedule to know where he’s residing on any given day. And his Vietnam Vet grandfather just got his leg amputated below the knee. So, things aren’t easy.

While teens may not relate to everything in Stand Tall, there’s enough to gain and keep their attention. As Susan often reminds me, Joan Bauer is one of only a handful of authors whose books are good for middle grades. There’s no violence, no cursing, no inappropriate behavior. What Ms. Bauer does produce is a good story line that combines obstacles with hope, a daunting-looking future offset by strong role model characters. All this with humor and great characters. Stand Tall is no slouch of a book. OK, you can groan now.

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