Nick has a good life and a good family. His moms, Erin and Jo, don’t always get along, but they love each other and love Nick. An occasional classmate makes fun of him for having lesbian parents, but for the most part, Nick gets through school without to much provocation. But then, Erin begins to have an affair, ripping apart a 15+ year marriage. Nick is caught between his two parents, as his birth mother (Erin) forbids him to have anything to do with the woman who really raised him (Jo).
This book was amazing on so many levels.
The first – Emotional: I don’t believe I’ve ever cried this much at a book. Not in my whole life. Not even close. I bawled my eyes out continuously for the last 100 pages. My stomach hurt, and I had to fight instincts to scream, hit, throw things, yell out in pain. It was written so well I could feel everything Nick felt, everything Jo felt. It was like my own family being ripped to shreds. It hurt so much.
The second – Universal: I don’t care that this is labeled Young Adult. Sure, it’s told from Nick’s point of view, starting when he’s really young (3 years old) until he’s 14 and going through all this. But even though the story is filtered through Nick’s eyes, the story is equally about Erin, Jo, and Kerri (Erin’s new girlfriend). So many people have been through divorces or have been in some way touched by divorce, that it’s easy to look in and empathize.
The third – Stereotype-breaking: Erin and Jo could easily be Erin and Joe. The fact that they’re both women change the dynamics only after they divorce. When they are living together, it’s like any other married couple. They have two distinct and different personalities, which sometimes get along and sometimes clash. I love this. I love that this book shows that sexuality has nothing to do with a relationship’s dynamics. All it has to do with is physical intimacy and the ability to procreate. The former doesn’t have anything to do with family dynamics; the latter is easily surpassable. Nick’s family was as normal as any other family. It was more functional than some, less functional than others. It was real and honest.
The fourth (and most important) – Relevance: This book shows why it’s so important to allow homosexual couples to marry! When Erin and Jo split up, Jo had no legal rights. None whatsoever. This is the only place where their genders really came into play. There were no custody rights. Erin could simply ban Nick from ever seeing Jo again, despite the fact that she raised him for 14 years. Jo was every bit a parent as Erin – and in some ways, more of a parent – and yet, because Erin was the biological mother and the two were never legally married, Jo’s son was taken away from her. Wrong, wrong, wrong!!!!! I wanted to shout and scream and rave about this, shout and scream and kill Erin for forbidding Nick from seeing Jo. She was wrong, and more than that, the legal system is WRONG for allowing this sort of situation to happen. Jo should have legally had rights to at least fight for custody. There should have been child support and visitation and every other legal benefit that straight divorced couples have.
The system is broken and needs to be fixed. This has nothing to do with morality or what any one person believes is right or wrong – ALL couples should have legal rights when it comes to their children. Any system that says otherwise is doing a big disservice to the innocent children of those relationships, and to the parents who suddenly are not allowed to be with the kids they raised. It’s wrong.
This is hands-down the best book about GLBT issues I’ve ever read. Everyone should read this. It might open some eyes a little bit.