Donorboy: A Novel

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Overview

Rosalind had two mommies. Now, thanks to a tragic accident involving foodstuffs, she has none. And Sean, the sperm donor responsible for half her DNA (and nothing else), is taking custody. Rosalind finds herself adjusting to a new life that seems both hateful and surreal–she’s an orphan with a new father, surrounded by friends she is beginning to despise and well-meaning adults who succeed only in annoying her.
Sean made a donation fifteen years ago, and his life since has not ...
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Overview

Rosalind had two mommies. Now, thanks to a tragic accident involving foodstuffs, she has none. And Sean, the sperm donor responsible for half her DNA (and nothing else), is taking custody. Rosalind finds herself adjusting to a new life that seems both hateful and surreal–she’s an orphan with a new father, surrounded by friends she is beginning to despise and well-meaning adults who succeed only in annoying her.
Sean made a donation fifteen years ago, and his life since has not gone according to plan. Thirty-five, single, and still grieving the loss of his own mother twenty-seven years ago, he decides to take on the overwhelming task of caring for an unhappy teenager he doesn’t know.

Told entirely through e-mail, instant messaging, journal entries, and other random communications, Donorboy is the comic, compellingly readable novel of how these two people learn to converse, cook, write heavy-metal songs, and nail windows shut on their way to becoming a family. Brendan Halpin has written a universal story of how we laugh, cry, and occasionally punch our way to a new life in the face of tragedy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Donorboy is a lively and exhilarating novel that reminds us that comedy and tragedy aren't opposites at all; by laying them side by side, Brendan Halpin adds weight to his funny moments and lightness to his sad ones. A touching and utterly engaging book."
-Carolyn Parkhurst, author of The Dogs of Babel

"Brendan Halpin's great gift as a writer is to hold his reader's heart in two worlds simultaneously-- one achingly funny, the other heartbreakingly sad. I read Donorboy in one sitting, my heart simultaneously cracked open and healed. What a beautiful, elegiac, laugh-out-loud book. In Donorboy, Halpin has redefined the epistolary novel."
-Alison McGhee, author of Shadow Baby and Was It Beautiful?

Publishers Weekly
A teenage girl becomes the ward of her sperm-donor father after losing both of her gay parents in a bizarre accident in this first novel, a modern spin on grief, catharsis and the art of parenting told in journal entries and electronic missives. Rosalind Butterfield is the rebellious but sweet 14-year-old whose home life is suddenly decimated when her two lesbian parents one of whom is a former sitcom star die in a freak accident. Rosalind's unlikely new guardian is her biological father, Sean Cassidy, a geeky, single public-service lawyer whose lack of parenting experience turns the initial chapters into a comedy of errors, starting with his first icy meeting with Rosalind. She writes about her life in a grief journal that she dubs "Fluffy"; he fills her in on his past in a series of e-mails. The tide begins to turn for Sean when he defends Rosalind at a school expulsion hearing after she decks a hockey player for making fun of her late mom, and slowly Sean and Rosalind cobble together an uneasy relationship that allows them to co-exist and finally respect each other. The unusual setup may strike some potential readers as contrived, but Halpin's storytelling flair and compassion make this an engrossing read. Agent, Curtis Brown Ltd. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-When Rosalind, 14, loses her mom and her mommy in a freak auto accident, she suddenly finds herself living with Sean Cassidy, her donor father. The baffled Sean has had little to do with Ros since her mothers asked him to assist in her conception. Told as a series of e-mail and text messages, as well as diary entries, Donorboy is a funny, poignant tale of a bereaved teen and a novice father coming to terms with one another. At first Ros refuses to speak to Sean. He communicates with her by e-mail and parries her hostile questions on how, exactly, she was conceived. He responds with a detailed description of his part in the in vitro fertilization process. As Ros negotiates her grief and the pitfalls of adolescence, he confides his doubts and anxiety in e-mails to a married friend, fearing that he took on his daughter for selfish reasons. But over time the two learn to communicate, cook, write heavy-metal song lyrics, and become a family. Readers will respond to Ros's authentic voice as she tries to sort through her loss, as well as her struggles with normal adolescent conundrums such as who her real friends are or doubts about her sexual identity. They will also glimpse how a caring but befuddled surrogate father learns to be the parent she needs.-Pat Bangs, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400062775
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/10/2004
  • Pages: 224
  • Lexile: 1330L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.29 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Okay, so here we go with my grief journal.

Jesus, that's mad corny. "My grief journal." -What are you doing, Ros? Oh, I'm just writing in my grief journal. Okay, grief journal grief journal, mad corny, mad libs, mad stupid, mad at the world (are you paying attention, Denise? Make sure to ask, why do you think you wrote mad at the world there? I don't know, genius, maybe because my parents are dead and my dad is some dork and not Kurt Cobain or Bono or even that Everybody Loves Raymond dork or anything else I used to imagine, he's

just a regular nonfamous dork like any dad, and I have

absolutely no idea on earth why he would want me to live with him, I want to live with Aunt Karen, I want to die like Mom. And Mommy.

No, Denise, not really. I mean, I don't particularly feel like living now, because it seems really pointless, but I don't really feel like doing anything as big a deal as killing myself, and probably you don't want to hear this, Denise, but I don't really want to die a virgin, even though there's nobody I really . . . sorry, IM from Sasha, probably I should do this in a real journal instead of on the computer and it did cross my mind to say, "I have to go write in my grief jrnl :-[" but I was too embarrassed, it's too-see now when they ask what's hard about having two moms, probably the hardest thing is that when something is really really gay, like a grief journal, you can't say it's really gay, because that's like dissing my mom, who's dead . . .

Okay, fuck you grief journal and fuck you Denise, because I just sat here and cried for like ten minutes because my . . .

fuck.

I don't want to do this. Are you going to collect it, Denise? Am I going to fail grief? How did you do in grief? Did you ever take grief? What do you do when you go home? Do you have some dork that you love? Do you drive home and get crushed by stupid foodstuffs? I like that word. "foodstuffs."

What the hell was I writing about before I cried twice. Fuck you Denise, fuck you Denise, I hate you Denise, I don't want to sit with the sadness Denise, I want to not feel like this ever, I hate Sean who I can't even call Dad because he's just the stupid donor, I can't even figure out why he wants me, especially since Grandma is all, "I'm just too old, honey," and Uncle Mike is all, "I have to work on some of my own issues right now."

Then again, Mom told me they didn't know the donor which is obviously a lie, so maybe the petri dish part is a lie too, maybe, ick, well, I can't even imagine this dork having sex with Mom, but then again the idea of Mommy having sex with Mom totally icks me out anyway, so maybe moms are just yucky and shouldn't have sex at all but then they wouldn't be moms, so there is what they

call a conundrum, a dilemma if you will, impaled on the horns of the dilemma, killed by a truckload of turduckens.

Okay, IM from Sasha again, I guess she's nice to check on me, but I hate everybody worrying about me and talking about me and asking how I'm doing and how they all just look at me when I come to lunch because now I'm tragic, oh my God that is so sad, oh my God, I am so sorry, Oh my God Ros. Oh my God. I love them but I hate them and I wish they would shut up except when I don't want them to, but they always get it wrong.

I hate this Denise. It doesn't help. Can I stop now? Please? Are you even going to read this?

>>>

You didn't read it, Denise, you just asked if I did it and how it made me feel and I really want to smack your fucking face when you ask me stupid shit like that or when I tell you how much I hate you and you say, "I know that you're feeling a lot of anger right now. Would you like to talk about that?" No, actually, I would like to smack your chubby cheek and see my handprint in red and watch the tears run out of your eyes and have you look at me and cry and ask me why why, it isn't fair, you only want to help me, you hate these ungrateful kids and then run out of the room and never ever come back and still feel the sting of my hand on your chubby little fucking cheek.

But that would mean something going my way for once, so instead you just do that annoying thing you do. "Let's talk about why you're feeling that way. How do you feel when you think about hitting me?"

I feel good, Denise. I feel real fucking good.

Ok, I'm lying. I feel like shit today and every day and

I hate everybody.

I don't want to do this, Denise. I have nothing to say. Mom's still dead, and the last thing I said to her was some bitchy thing and I hate that, I hate you, I hate me, why does the last thing I ever say to her have to be some mean thing? I hate it, Denise, I can't stand to think about myself, I can't stand anything.

I don't have anything to say. I can't see the screen because I'm crying again.

This is a sucky idea, Denise. My grief journal is dumb, my grief journal is dumb, Denise is dumb, Sasha

is dumb, Rosalind is dumb, and whatever fucking idiot

invented the turducken is dumb. I think I'm going to go veggie just to protest. Also that should fuck with Sean, so that's good. He'll try to be all sensitive and pretend like he's not annoyed, but I'm like fuck you Sean, send me back to Karen if I bug you, but you won't so I will make you pay if I ever decide to talk to you. I guess I'm gonna have to if I am going veggie. Or I could write him a note. "Going veggie. Buy tofu. Hate you. Send me to Aunt Karen." I think I smiled. Still my grief journal is dumb, stupid, mad corny, mad mad mad.

>>>

Dear My First Grief Journal:

Still not talking to Sean. Sean is my dad. Sean is the donor. Sean is some dork who lives in this house. I guess it's my house now. I hate that. I hate this stupid single guy house with the stupid big TV and PS2 and cable even though I kind of like those things. I think I want to live in my own house, in my real house, and I think I could stop the sale. Then I could have my real room and my real door and the thing on the trim in the kitchen where Mom marked how I grew.

But I guess Sean would have to live there too, and Mom is never coming home, and Mommy isn't either, and I know I would wake up every day thinking it was a bad dream and I didn't tell my mom I hated her just before she died because I couldn't go to some dumb party with people it turns out I hate.

I don't want to think about that. It makes me hate myself. Why can't I say I'm sorry? I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, please come back so I can tell you I'm sorry.

Okay, other stuff, other stuff. Sean's house is weird and boring. I want to go live with Aunt Karen.

Except I hate her too, I'm sick of her stupid phone calls, every night, honey is there anything you need,

how you holding up kiddo, honey I'm feeling sad and missing your moms tonight, sweetie I'm really sad and I just want you to know that we are sharing that. Whatever. Take care of yourself, bitch. Nobody cares if you're sad, nobody cares if I'm sad, even stupid Sean who keeps

looking at me like won't you please talk to me, and I just act like I don't even see that because the hell with him.

Denise, I really think this idea sucks. I felt okay when I started writing, and now I feel shitty and sad and I just want to lie on my bed and not sleep and wake up wondering where I am and then remember it all and dream about Mom at the foot of my bed saying honey I just want to check on you, I want to make sure you're okay, I'm sorry I had to leave. But she never says don't worry about being a bitch to me just before I died . . .

Goddammit Denise I have tears running down my face and big mascara streaks on my cheeks. Is this helpful? Is this a therapeutic dose? Can you just give me some drugs or something to make me feel normal? I don't want to cry anymore, I'm sick of crying every night and every day and when I'm peeing after C block and then while I wait for the T after school and I'm sick of everything.

And no I don't have any suicidal ideation, I learned that in my peer counseling training, isn't that funny? I was going to help those poor girls with issues. Because I really care. Those bitches look at me like I'm radioactive now. But I know all the questions to ask. Am I thinking about hurting myself? Only if raiding Sean's liquor cabinet counts as hurting myself. Maybe it does. Do I have a plan to hurt myself? I don't actually even know if he has a liquor cabinet, and I don't want to do anything that might cause me pain.

Maybe getting drunk would. Sasha puked really hard last summer, but I was too scared, I didn't want Mommy to get mad or disappointed, so I just held Sasha's hair while she puked, and the sound of her puking made me want to puke, but I didn't.

I'm not answering the IM's anymore. I don't want

to talk about how I am and I don't want to hear about whether Andy likes her oh my God he looked at me oh

my God who gives a fuck.

>>>

Dear My First Grief Journal that Denise keeps asking about and that I don't want to do but I'm still such a fucking goody goody that I won't stop doing because it's my assigned homework even though I stopped actually doing my math homework isn't that funny?:

There's never any food here. I think I really am going veggie. I thought it was a joke but I want to kill that pencil neck on tv with his stupid yellow chickens even though those might not be the turducken chickens, but anyway, I can't eat any meat without thinking about how it comes in a truck that overturns and kills somebody's mom.

So I did leave a note. I left out the hate you part. It said, "Sean. I am a vegetarian. Please buy food. There is never any food here." and I didn't sign it. When I got home from school the next day the house was completely packed with food. Organic everything in the fridge and every cabinet packed with organic vegan stuff. He even bought those horrible fruit-juice sweetened cookies that Mom always . . .

Anyway. I guess I should have been touched or something, but it just made me want to smack him. Like I just had to say jump and he would say how high and that is a pathetic loser of a 35-year-old unmarried man who will

do that for a 14-year-old.

He left me a note. It said, "Rosalind-Bought food. Will microwave one organic burrito of your choice in exchange for five words. Think it over."

I've got his five words right here.

>>>

To: Rosalind90@aol.com

From: Sean_Cassidy@publaw.org

Subject: Five words

Dear Rosalind:

Well, I guess Did You Fuck My Mom is, in fact, five words. I hope you enjoyed the burrito. Mine was cold in the middle.

So listen. Or, rather, read. I have taken your five words as an invitation to tell you some stuff about me. I'm going to send you something every day at my lunch hour. Maybe you'll write me back sometime. Maybe you won't. Maybe you'll talk to me. Maybe you won't. In any case, I hope you will at least read what I write to you and not delete it. I guess I don't know if you will or not.

Okay, so I am sorry that I was choking on black beans and soy cheese in a whole-wheat tortilla when you asked your question and so didn't get to answer it. My standard comeback when somebody swears unexpectedly . . . well, never mind. Anyway, I thought about getting indignant, like what happens between two adults is none of your business, blah blah, but it is the beginning of your life we're talking about, so I guess the question is fair.

Sorry I am going on at length and still not answering the question. This is what lawyers do, I suppose.

Anyway, I did not have sexual relations with that woman. (That's a Bill Clinton joke, but maybe you are too young to get it. That is a kind of scary thought to me. But anyway.)

Here's the deal: I took the Red Line to the Green Line, got off at Brookline Village, walked into this eight-story glass box of a building, took the elevator to the fourth floor and walked into Fertility Solutions, suite 416. I went by myself, though I had tried to get Marcia, who was my girlfriend at the time, to go with me. (This little fact becomes important later. Bear with me.)

I signed in with the receptionist, and then a nurse, a heavy, fiftyish blond woman who sported that olfactory treat of too much perfume covering up cigarette smoke, and had gold rings on every finger and fingernails that were probably an inch and a half long and a name tag that said "Angela" escorted me to the donation room and handed me a clear plastic cup with a blue lid. I placed my donation in the cup and returned the cup to Angela, which was probably the most embarrassing moment of my life up to that point. I don't know exactly what process followed, but a month later, Sandy called to tell me that Eva was pregnant. I was jumping up and down I was so happy. Marcia was there, and she was less happy.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2013

    WHAT!???!?

    Went to go read the sample and it was a sample of "spellbound" WTH?? if anyone knows how tp fix it, reply to OZB

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

    Posted September 9, 2007

    Great book

    My thought of this book is that its very good. It teaches you life lessons. This could happen in real life and sometimes it does and this is what sometimes happens. I recommend this book to anyone. I normally dont like to read so when I tell you to read it, I think you should. Hopefully you'll read this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2006

    its okay

    its an okay book...bout girl loses her lesbian moms and has to live with sean the sperm donor. learns life lessons, makes friend and a family

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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