Second Family

Second Family

by Diane Johnston Hamm

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-- Since his wife's death, Mr. Torkleson has been very lonely. Arrangements are made for sharing his house with a recent divorcee and her 12-year-old son. Perhaps a ``second family'' will help all of them. The move to Seattle from Los Angeles, however, compounds the issues that Catherine and Rodney face, and both reject the man's attempts at friendship. Hurt and rebellious, the woman immerses herself in graduate school; the boy tries unsuccessfully to shoplift to get sent back to his father in California. Ultimately, Mr. T., Catherine, and Rodney come to see what they must do as individuals to deal with their isolation, loneliness, and loss and so learn to communicate better with one another. This contemporary, realistic novel moves swiftly to a credible, satisfying conclusion. Characters are plausible and empathetic. Readers will most likely recognize the parallels between old Mr. T. and Rodney and may even see some of themselves in the behavior and emotions of both characters. --Maria B. Salvadore, District of Columbia Public Library
Kay Weisman
Hamm portrays the themes of loneliness and adjusting to new life situations in this realistic and touching novel. Mr. Torkleson, a Seattle widower having trouble finding a new niche in life, opens his home to a young divorcee and her son. The Donovues have moved from California, and Catherine, who hides her true feelings behind dark glasses and a punk hairdo, has enrolled in classes at the university. Rodney, who makes it no secret that he misses his friends and father, resents his new home and school. Told alternately by Mr. T and Rodney, the story offers three strong, well-developed characters, each struggling with loss. A final crisis, in which Mr. Torkleson is hurt, forces the three to confront their problems head-on, paving the way for a hopeful (although not "happily-ever-after") solution. Hamm's point that every generation has similar problems is well made, and should be reassuring to young readers.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

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