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Any Other Family
Cover of Any Other Family
Any Other Family
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
The New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters returns with a striking and intimate new novel about three very different adoptive mothers who face the impossible question: What makes a family?

Though they look like any other family, they aren’t one—not quite. They are three sets of parents who find themselves intertwined after adopting four biological siblings, having committed to keeping the children as connected as possible.
At the heart of the family, the adoptive mothers grapple to define themselves and their new roles. Tabitha, who adopted the twins, crowns herself planner of the group, responsible for endless playdates and holidays, determined to create a perfect happy family. Quiet and steady Ginger, single mother to the eldest daughter, is wary of the way these complicated not-fully-family relationships test her long held boundaries. And Elizabeth, still reeling from rounds of failed IVF, is terrified that her unhappiness after adopting a newborn means she was not meant to be a mother at all.
As they set out on their first family vacation, all three are pushed into uncomfortably close quarters. And when they receive a call from their children’s birth mother announcing she is pregnant again, the delicate bonds the women are struggling to form threaten to collapse as they each must consider how a family is found and formed.
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
The New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters returns with a striking and intimate new novel about three very different adoptive mothers who face the impossible question: What makes a family?

Though they look like any other family, they aren’t one—not quite. They are three sets of parents who find themselves intertwined after adopting four biological siblings, having committed to keeping the children as connected as possible.
At the heart of the family, the adoptive mothers grapple to define themselves and their new roles. Tabitha, who adopted the twins, crowns herself planner of the group, responsible for endless playdates and holidays, determined to create a perfect happy family. Quiet and steady Ginger, single mother to the eldest daughter, is wary of the way these complicated not-fully-family relationships test her long held boundaries. And Elizabeth, still reeling from rounds of failed IVF, is terrified that her unhappiness after adopting a newborn means she was not meant to be a mother at all.
As they set out on their first family vacation, all three are pushed into uncomfortably close quarters. And when they receive a call from their children’s birth mother announcing she is pregnant again, the delicate bonds the women are struggling to form threaten to collapse as they each must consider how a family is found and formed.
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  • From the cover Prologue
     
    They look like any other family. A real one: cousins, siblings, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters. They look like any other family with a past, with shared stories and traditions and jokes, memories of childhood summers and hundreds of holidays, carrying old wounds and the echoes of kept and broken promises.

    But they are not like any other family, not exactly.

    Does that mean they are not a family at all? Each of them stumbles over the word occasionally, searching for the right labels to explain their relationships to outsiders, never feeling quite understood, not quite certain themselves of what the right term for this is.
    Still, that name, family, is as close as they have found. They are a family, formed by three sets of parents who adopted from the same group of biological siblings.

    Once upon a time, there were three children: Phoebe, the eldest at five, and the twins, not-quite-toddlers. When their grandmother, who had been raising them, died, there was no one else to turn to. Their mother, Brianna, had been so young when she had them, was more like a sibling to them than a parent, and was no more prepared to care for them now than she had been when they were born.

    As the social workers began casting about for options – fostering? adoption? – little Phoebe took her own destiny in hand and asked to live with Ginger. This was a surprise to everyone, most of all Ginger herself, whose only connection to Phoebe was her volunteer work in Phoebe’s kindergarten class as a reading tutor. But she had fallen for Phoebe in the same way the child had fallen for her, and she was happy to open her home.

    Tabitha and Perry, who had married later in life and were hoping to build their family through adoption, were asked if they would care for the twins, busy and curious and energetic, an exhausting joy. They had just completed their home study and were surprised but delighted to have Tate and Taylor come home with them so quickly.
    Splitting up siblings who got along so very well and had already lost so very much was generally seen as a less than ideal arrangement, but when Tabitha suggested a new way of thinking of it: the children living in different houses but still raised as siblings, the social worker and the judge, and most importantly, Brianna, embraced the plan, and so they became one family and many families at the same time.

    Tabitha has always loved the idea of this magical new thing they were making. It was what she had been dreaming of her entire lonely childhood and beyond: being part of a big, happy family. They all come together to celebrate birthdays with piñatas and cake in the backyard, to share gratitude at Thanksgiving, and to have dinner every Sunday night, including Brianna when she can make it.

    Ginger, who came from a complicated family and escaped it as soon as humanly possible, likes this familial closeness rather less, even though she believes firmly, agrees entirely, that keeping the siblings as close as possible was the right thing for the children. She had never thought she would be a mother at all, and it couldn’t have happened any other way. Sometimes Ginger considers the millions of decisions leading her to exactly that place so she could catch Phoebe as she fell from the sky, and marvels at the happenstance that brought her this child.

    It is only that, along with motherhood, she has also inherited a complete set of quasi-relatives, after spending her entire adulthood building a life of happy solitude. Sometimes Ginger feels as if she spends all her time going back and forth to Tabitha and Perry’s house (everything happens...
About the Author-
  • Eleanor Brown is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Weird Sisters and The Light of Paris, and the editor of the anthology A Paris All Your Own. An adoptive mother herself, Eleanor lives with her family in Colorado. 
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 23, 2022
    In Brown’s rewarding latest (after The Light of Paris), two Denver couples and a single mother adopt four biological siblings and attempt to keep the children connected through a blended kinship. The three families are on vacation together in Aspen, Colo., for two weeks when the children’s birth mother, 24-year-old Brianna, calls to say she is pregnant again. Tensions have already started flaring among the three adoptive mothers. Tabitha Basnight, mother of the twins Taylor and Tate, presides over the group’s frequent get-togethers and is clumsy with personal boundaries. Introverted single mother Ginger Kowalski, who adopted fifth grader Phoebe, the oldest sibling, after Brianna’s grandmother died, manages Tabitha’s controlling nature by not living nearby. Sleep-deprived and financially stressed Elizabeth Evans adopted Violet, a colicky baby, after years of unsuccessful fertility treatments. The close quarters in Aspen contribute to a dramatic airing of long-simmering resentments toward Tabitha, which threatens to upset the arrangement. Though Brianna is painted only as irresponsible and immature (and comes across as narratively convenient) Brown has a sure hand in portraying the adoptive women; their smart, lively dialogue sparks as the characters try to define the boundaries of a family. Overall, Brown entertains with her colorful cast and engaging conceit. Agent: Elizabeth Winick Rubenstein, McIntosh & Otis.

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