Saturday, March 28, 2020

Book Review: The Other Family" by Loretta Nyhan

Family—in all its forms—can be the most powerful tool we have. That's at least a theme of Loretta Nyhan's heartwarming and emotional new novel, The Other Family.

It’s not that Ally is inordinately unhappy—it’s more like she’s been in a state of suspended animation for a long while. First it was discovering that her daughter Kylie had a dangerous peanut allergy when she was very young, but now Kylie just keeps getting sick. Although doctors can’t quite pinpoint exactly what is wrong with her, they know it’s some kind of autoimmune disease.

Kylie’s health has taken its toll on Ally’s finances, her sanity, even her marriage—she and her husband Matt are separated. But that doesn’t matter, because she just wants to find answers about what’s wrong with Kylie, wants Kylie to have the life of a normal 10-1/2-year old.

When the latest doctor they’re seeing, whose methods are somewhat unorthodox, suggests the problem may be genetic, it throws Ally for a loop. She was adopted, so if Kylie takes a DNA test, it could open the door to information about her biological family, information she’s never sought before.

The DNA test finds that Ally has an aunt nearby, an aunt who never forgot about her. But is Ally ready to open up her life to new family members at the same time she’s dealing with her adoptive mother’s feelings about looking into her biological family? Not only that, but Matt is resisting the treatment being proposed for Kylie because he worries about potential harm, and he wants to start dating again. Can't Ally just get her one wish, that Kylie get the help she needs?

The Other Family was a sweet, moving book about the bonds of family and the idea that family is who we choose as much as those to whom we’re born. It’s also a powerful look at the sacrifices parents make for their children, the vulnerabilities we don't want others to see, and the struggles faced by those with autoimmune diseases.

I really enjoy the way Loretta Nyhan writes. I loved her last book, Digging In, too, as it also combined humor, poignancy, and resilience.

Thanks to Amazon’s First Reads program and Lake Union Publishing for an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review! This book publishes April 1.

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