Family by Lynley Wayne

FAMILY

Family by Lynley Wayne
Publisher: Featherweight Press
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LBGT
Length: Short Story (19 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Age Recommendation: 12+
Reviewer: Astilbe

Emily Thompson is your average teenager. She goes to school, has friends, and enjoys spending time with her family. The one thing that makes her different is her definition of family. To her, family means loving and accepting those around her. The fact that her dad is gay doesn’t make him any less of a father — he is the same as other dads, with the exception of who he loves. Her family may not be traditional, but it’s hers.

Who decides when and how love can be shared? Must divorce be the end of a family or can it be the beginning of something incredible?

Emily Thompson knows other people don’t understand her family dynamics. A few years after her parent’s divorce Emily learns that her father is gay. She cheers her parents on as they fall in love with other people and the entire family comes together to celebrate her mother’s remarriage. Her father and mother even dance with one another at the reception. Some friends and neighbours think this is a little odd. How can ex-spouses get along so well with one another?

The secret is that not all families look the same. Emily’s parents may no longer be romantically involved with one another but they are committed to raising their daughter together as a team. The best scene in this book occurs when Emily helps her shy, flabbergasted father set up a date with the man who will eventually become his life partner. Watching Emily’s dad sputter in embarrassment as she makes all of the arrangements was quite funny and it demonstrated her self-confidence and unconditional love for him in a tangible manner.

I would have preferred to see a better plot structure in this book. The stories Emily tells about the formation of her nontraditional family are inspirational but they are often interrupted by paragraphs discussing how certain events made her feel. Family reads more like a personal essay than a short story in several places. For the age group for which it is intended it would be more effective to stick with one writing style.

The biggest strength of this tale is that its message appeals to preteens living in a wide variety of circumstances. One doesn’t need personal experience with divorce or growing up with an LGBT parent to sympathize with Emily’s experiences. In fact, I could see this book being quite useful for kids who live with legal guardians, foster parents, single parents or who consider more than two adults to be their moms or dads.

I’d recommend Family to anyone in the market for an easy conversation starter for preteen loved ones who struggle with explaining their living arrangements to outsiders. Emily’s a great role model for anyone in this situation.

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