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Joody's children, three half-siblings, may not be her highest priority (not even second) but she's given ...
Joody's children, three half-siblings, may not be her highest priority (not even second) but she's given them life, hasn't she? Isn't that the ultimate gift? Janet buys them shoes, whoo hoo.
Four points of view on Joody. Her sister, her young teen son, her son's absent-until-lately father plus her own reflection on a free spirit fettered by circumstance (kids). The crisis of Joody's fourth pregnancy pulls our narrators into view to sharpen our appreciation of a family in crisis illustrated by sisters in conflict.
Crisp dialog and witty prose put Joody on the page as well as voice Janet's exasperation with the gaps and lapses in the kids' care. She wants to believe Joody is careless, not dangerous, but at what point would she need to step in and take over? If it's now, she doesn't feel ready.
Aunt Janet has been the kids' ally, provider of comfort, bringer of fun. What she isn't is their mother. The facts of life are clear. Janet is single and childless. Nothing complicates her stepping forward to help, as far as Joody is concerned. Her goody-goody sister has time and money to spare. It isn't the kids' fault their mother is an underpaid hostess at a restaurant (better known for its bar). Lucky for them they have a rich aunt.
Brent is the first man who left Joody pregnant. (OK, she didn't tell him she was pregnant when he broke up with her for cheating) ((which was a one-time mistake, really)). After all these years it isn't that he doesn't like Joody, the problem is he likes her too much. Looking at the boy now, there is no question he's the dad. It may have been stupid to waste years of his own life drinking and drugging, but it was a sin to deprive his child of support. How does he make up for that?
Bryce is the oldest child of a narcissistic mother, alarmed at her casual disregard for his sisters, captive target for her frustration. He's teetering on a high-wire of tension: he can't tell Aunt Jan his mother threatens to kill herself because if he does tell she says she'll take the kids with her. And now, suddenly, he has a dad? Could Brent be even worse than his mother?
This is character-driven story telling, easy to read but hard to forget.