Between Mom and Jo

( 12 )

Overview

Nick has a three-legged dog named Lucky, some pet fish, and two moms who think he's the greatest kid ever. And he happens to think he has the greatest Moms ever, but everything changes when his birth mom and her wife, Jo, start to have marital problems. Suddenly, Nick is in the middle, and instead of having two Moms to turn to for advice, he has no one.

Nick's emotional struggle to redefine his relationships with his parents will remind readers...

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Between Mom and Jo

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Overview

Nick has a three-legged dog named Lucky, some pet fish, and two moms who think he's the greatest kid ever. And he happens to think he has the greatest Moms ever, but everything changes when his birth mom and her wife, Jo, start to have marital problems. Suddenly, Nick is in the middle, and instead of having two Moms to turn to for advice, he has no one.

Nick's emotional struggle to redefine his relationships with his parents will remind readers that a family's love can survive even the most difficult times.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Nick, 14, tells his story in flashbacks, revealing what it was like growing up with his two moms-and watching their relationship fall apart. Peters's (Luna) novel is much more than a story about a gay family. While Nick and his mothers do deal with discrimination (his third-grade teacher does not hang up the family picture he drew, for example), they have all too normal troubles as well, such as Jo's alcoholism, Erin's breast cancer, and eventually Erin's budding relationship with another woman. The author draws the protagonists as full-blooded characters, and readers will likely find it easy to relate to them. Jo struggles to hold down a job, but rescues animals and ferociously protects Nick (after some fifth-graders tease the then-kindergartner about his family, she stands at the school fence for a week, "posturing like a tough guy"). Erin, meanwhile, resents being the responsible one, yet she still gets drafted into the family's watermelon seed-spitting contest. When Nick learns of their separation, his "heart rips. A black hole opens up." Readers may have trouble believing that Erin, Nick's biological mother, would prevent him from seeing Jo after they split up, but overall, they will touched by this story about the struggles of a realistically flawed family. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Nicholas Tyler's family has been a good and loving one, in spite of his occasional problems with other kids who taunt him for having lesbian parents. The pair wanted a child and found a sperm donor through an agency, but saw no need for Jo to adopt Nick when Erin gave birth. As Nick relates various incidents from his early childhood, we can see that though Erin and Jo are deeply in love, Jo's alcoholism, her history of losing and changing jobs, and her sometimes outrageous behavior are producing cracks in the relationship between her and her far more prudent mate. And we also see that though Erin loves Nick dearly and takes good care of him, it is Jo who gets him through the difficult times by being willing to face problems directly and to offer him and Erin unconditional love. Nick's world falls apart when Erin, after surviving breast cancer and completing her law degree, falls in love with another woman and throws Jo out. The worst of it is that Erin tries to keep Nick from having any contact with Jo. Nick falls apart emotionally, and Erin ultimately agrees to let him live with Jo and to let Jo adopt him. The characters are complex, appealing, and likable. But after the breakup Erin's long and absolute insistence on breaking the connection between Nick and Jo feels too extreme for the situation, and her agreement to let Jo adopt Nick seems too sudden. In spite of those minor weaknesses, the book is often funny, often deeply emotional, and always well worth reading. 2006, Megan Tingley Books/Little Brown and Company, Ages 12 up.
—Judy DaPolito
VOYA
Fourteen-year-old Nick introduces himself through flashbacks as he tells the story of his life with his two lesbian mothers. Erin is his biological mother, and Jo is the mother of his heart. Nick finds nothing unusual about being raised by two moms until he enters kindergarten, where two older boys talk about his two pervert moms and call him "Dickless Nicholas." Nick's mothers are good women who love him and each other and get through life as best they can. In elementary school when his teacher refuses to put up Nick's family drawing with those of the other children, Jo confronts the teacher about her refusal and questions his unfair grades. The teacher smiles and uses other ways to make him feel as if he does not exist. Peters again works her writing magic in this perfectly structured and exquisitely written novel. Nick does not hide anything from the reader-not his mother's breast cancer, not Jo's drinking problem, not the harassment at school, nor when Erin looks outside the family for emotional comfort. A child in a family facing divorce hurts-no matter what genders comprise the parent couple. Because of this family makeup, many librarians will self-censor the book, doing what Nick's elementary teacher did with his drawings. But the novel needs to be read. Doing so takes one step toward helping this kind of family feel less invisible; doing so represents one step closer to recognizing and supporting their very real existence. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Little Brown, 256p., Ages 11 to 18.
—C. J. Bott
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Nicholas Nathaniel Thomas Tyler has four first names and two mothers.As the only child in his class with gay parents, he endures the taunts and prejudices of classmates and adults over the years as best he can, drawing reassurance and strength from his parents. Challenges nearly overwhelm him, though, when their relationship ends; Jo moves out, and Nick, now a teenager, is left with Erin, his birth mother. Peters captures the voice of an adolescent sorting through the memories of his childhood in poignant prose that rings with truth. As Nick develops from a boy to a young man, he must address his own sexuality, his ties to his family, and his need to assert his individuality. This novel is a timely exploration of the struggles faced by same-sex couples and their children, and while the issues are significant, the story is never overwhelmed by them. Because Jo lacks biological or legal relationship to Nick, he can be cut off from her with no recourse, which makes his experience slightly different from that of other children of divorcing parents. This coming-of-age novel powerfully portrays the universal pain of a family breakup. It also portrays what is still a "weird" situation to many people (as reflected in the behavior of Nick's babysitter) as totally normal from one young man's point of view.-Beth Gallego, Los Angeles Public Library, North Hollywood Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
After his two mothers' marriage ends in divorce, 14-year-old Nick recalls key moments from his rocky childhood. Age three: screaming in the emergency room, a chin gash bleeding down his shirt, while mother Jo goofs around trying to make him laugh. Kindergarten: being called "Dickless Nicholas" when older kids hear about his lesbian moms. Third grade: Jo sarcastically confronting a homophobic teacher while Mom and Nick, horrified, try to drag her away. Age 13: Jo and Mom splitting up, Jo leaving behind a crushed and desolate Nick. Bitterness spirals into despair-Nick lets his beloved fish die and cuts his knuckles with a knife-until Mom allows him to go live with Jo. The narrative voice doesn't vary with Nick's age. However, Nick's need for Jo is palpable, despite-or because of-their gruff, unorthodox, rough-and-tumble love. An un-romanticized look at divorce and parent-child relationships, as well as an addition to the tiny canon about gay parents. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316067102
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 3/11/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 502,083
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.37 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Julie Anne Peters is the critically acclaimed author of Define "Normal," Keeping You a Secret, Far from Xanadu, and Luna, a National Book Award Finalist.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed for "Unicorns, I Love Them!"

    I don't include summaries in my reviews, but just this once I'm going to make an exception, because it will make it easier for me to review this book. And I need the help, because it's difficult to review a flawless book.

    Between Mom and Jo is the story of a boy named Nick and his two moms, Erin and Jo. The book starts when Nick is three, and we get to see Nick grow up thinking that having two moms is completely normal. In fact, his parent's sexuality isn't even the main focus of the book. Though their family faces many hardships (including alcoholism and cancer) Erin and Jo promise Nick that the three of them will always be together.

    But one day, when Nick is fourteen, Erin starts an affair with another woman. This causes Nick's parents to separate and Jo moves out.

    Now, I cried on and off for the rest of the book after this. I cried more than I did during Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. There are only two books that have made me cry more.

    Peters is an amazing writer. Nick is such an honest character, and you feel his pain as he struggles with his grief and the fact that he may never see Jo again. So really, anyone can relate to this book, because Nick faced all the hardships any kid with divorced parents would face.

    Also, this book is the perfect proof of why the government should legalize same-sex marriage! Because Jo had no legal or biological attachment to Nick, they couldn't arrange visitation rights or anything. Erin just said to Nick, "You can't see Jo!" and it happened! When Jo was just as much of a parent to Nick as Erin, if not more so! That's why this is a much better gay rights book than, say, Keeping You a Secret (but don't get me wrong, I very much liked Keeping You a Secret too). This is the kind of book that cures homophobia.

    I'm sorry, Annie on My Mind, but this is my new favorite LGBT book. I usually don't recommend LGBT books to other people, but this is one I'm going to make all my friends read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2006

    Courtesy of Teens Read Too

    BETWEEN MOM AND JO is the first book I've read by Julie Anne Peters, but it won't be my last. In fact, as soon as I finished this book, I went and read KEEPING YOU A SECRET and LUNA. And while we're on confessions, this is also the first book I've read dealing with GLBT (gay/lesbian/bisexual/ transgender) issues, but again, it won't be the last. This book grabbed at my emotions, affecting me with every word so deeply that I finished it in only a matter of hours--and have been thinking about it ever since. Nicholas Nathaniel Thomas Tyler has always only known one type of family life. He's the only child of mom Erin--and mom Jo. His earliest memories revolve around one or the other of his mothers, but it's usually Jo who is prominent, making him forget about the need for stitches at age three or tangling with the homophobic teacher he had in third grade. His mothers, of course, have their ups and downs like all parents do--mom Erin complains about mom Jo's drinking and her inability to hold down a steady job mom Jo can't stand mom Erin's stony silences when she's angry. For Nick, having two mothers is just the way life is--he's heard all the 'queers' and '[...]' through the years, he's wondered about the father that donated sperm for his conception, he's been haunted over whether having two lesbians for parents will make him gay. Most of all, though, Nick has experienced love from two women who only want him to be happy. He has a three-legged dog named Lucky 2, a ton of fish that he takes care of religiously, and there's even a feral cat named Savage thrown into the mix to keep things interesting. Nick's life is pretty normal--or as normal as it can ever be--until the year he turns fourteen, and Jo moves out. After a marriage, a child, lost jobs, meetings at AA, college courses, and a relationship that they'd always promised would remain whole, his mothers break up. Nick is suddenly thrust into turmoil, and his whole world falls apart. He's left with mom Erin, his biological mother, even though what he wants most in the world is to be allowed to live with mom Jo. Erin won't hear of it, however, even though she's the one with Kerri, her new girlfriend. She's the real parent, and Jo let trust get in the way of legally adopting Nick, so there's no out. As Nick descends deeper into depression, as Erin becomes fanatical about not allowing her son to even to talk to Jo on the telephone, as Kerri moves in, something has to give. BETWEEN MOM AND JO is heartfelt, genuine, and painfully honest. For anyone who has ever watched the breakup of a family, for those with gay or lesbian parents, this is the book for you. I promise it will stay with you for quite awhile.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2012

    Bad

    This book is bad. Two moms ill.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius" for TeensReadToo.com

    BETWEEN MOM AND JO is the first book I've read by Julie Anne Peters, but it won't be my last. In fact, as soon as I finished this book, I went and read KEEPING YOU A SECRET and LUNA. And while we're on confessions, this is also the first book I've read dealing with GLBT (gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender) issues, but again, it won't be the last. This book grabbed at my emotions, affecting me with every word so deeply that I finished it in only a matter of hours--and have been thinking about it ever since. <BR/><BR/>Nicholas Nathaniel Thomas Tyler has always only known one type of family life. He's the only child of mom Erin--and mom Jo. His earliest memories revolve around one or the other of his mothers, but it's usually Jo who is prominent, making him forget about the need for stitches at age three or tangling with the homophobic teacher he had in third grade. His mothers, of course, have their ups and downs like all parents do. Mom Erin complains about mom Jo's drinking and her inability to hold down a steady job; mom Jo can't stand mom Erin's stony silences when she's angry. For Nick, having two mothers is just the way life is. He's heard all the "queers" and "faggots" through the years, he's wondered about the father that donated sperm for his conception, and he's been haunted over whether having two lesbians for parents will make him gay. <BR/><BR/>Most of all, though, Nick has experienced love from two women who only want him to be happy. He has a three-legged dog named Lucky 2, a ton of fish that he takes care of religiously, and there's even a feral cat named Savage thrown into the mix to keep things interesting. Nick's life is pretty normal--or as normal as it can ever be--until the year he turns fourteen, and Jo moves out. <BR/><BR/>After a marriage, a child, lost jobs, meetings at AA, college courses, and a relationship that they'd always promised would remain whole, his mothers break up. Nick is suddenly thrust into turmoil, and his whole world falls apart. He's left with mom Erin, his biological mother, even though what he wants most in the world is to be allowed to live with mom Jo. Erin won't hear of it, however, even though she's the one with Kerri, her new girlfriend. She's the real parent, and Jo let trust get in the way of legally adopting Nick, so there's no out. <BR/><BR/>As Nick descends deeper into depression, as Erin becomes fanatical about not allowing her son to even to talk to Jo on the telephone, as Kerri moves into their home, something has to give. <BR/><BR/>BETWEEN MOM AND JO is heartfelt, genuine, and painfully honest. For anyone who has ever watched the breakup of a family, or for those with gay or lesbian parents, this is the book for you. I promise it will stay with you for quite awhile.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted May 19, 2011

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    Posted December 3, 2009

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    Posted October 25, 2008

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    Posted January 23, 2011

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    Posted July 30, 2009

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    Posted October 26, 2008

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