Char Hawthorn, college professor, wife and stepmother to a spirited fifteen-year-old daughter, loves her family and the joyful rhythms of work and parenting. But when her husband dies in a car accident, the “step” in Char’s title suddenly matters a great deal. In the eyes of the law, all rights to daughter Allie belong to Lindy, Allie’s self-absorbed biological mother, who wants to girl to move to her home in California.
While Allie begins to struggle in school and tensions mount between her and Char, Allie’s connection to young Morgan, a ten-year-old-girl she tutors, seems to keep her grounded. But then Morgan, who was adopted out of foster care, suddenly disappears, and Char is left to wonder about a possible future without Allie and what to do about Morgan, a child caught up in a terrible crack in the system.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)|
About the Author
Reading Group Guide
1. Ignoring the issue of who has legal rights to Allie and who does not, who do you think Allie should live with: her stepmother, Char, or her biological mother, Lindy? Why?
2. Should Char shoulder some of the blame for Allie’s behavior throughout the book? Why or why not?
3. Allie and Char are both grieving the loss of Bradley. How are they able to help one another throughout this time? How are their mourning processes different?
4. Legally, Char has no parental rights to Allie once Bradley dies. Do you agree with this law? Should stepparents have certain rights to their stepchildren in the event of a spouse’s death?
5. Allie and Morgan have a special bond. Why do you think this is? What do they provide for one another to make their relationship so special?
6. Dave Crew ultimately prioritizes his biological son over his adopted daughter. Is this understandable, or is it reprehensible?
7. “Rehoming” is a difficult, but very real, event that occurs in adoptive families. Do you agree with the Crews’ decision to rehome Morgan? Was Morgan’s violent behavior enough of a reason to do so?
8. One of the issues the Crews face is an inability to afford post-adoption mental-health services for Morgan. Do you believe there was more they could have done? Should the state and federal governments improve the availability of these services?
9. Should Char have reported the Crews to the Michigan authorities? Why or why not?
10. We get a glimpse of how things turned out for Char, Allie, and Morgan. How do you think things turned out for the Crews?
11. There are several different mother-daughter relationships explored throughout the book: Allie and Char; Allie and Lindy; Morgan and Sarah. How are these relationships different? How are they similar? Did you relate to one relationship more than the others?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
There was only one thing I knew about what this book was about before I started reading it. It was that Char lives with her husband and his fifteen year old daughter, Allie. After her husband dies, Char has to face her relationship with her stepdaughter and whether Allie will still live with her. But as I read this book, it was about so much more than just Char and Allie's relationship. It was also about Char's family and friends, along with Allie's family and her friends. This book is about the relationship between husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and parents and their children. It is also about the connection between friends. It is about the bonds between people, whether they are related or not. I really enjoyed how the story evolved and the surprises along the way. Julie's descriptions of the characters were awesome!
Untethered is the story of when a unexpected death in a family that will either force a family to come together or drift apart. Char is happily married and has a teenage step-daughter, Allie but when a car crash takes her husband from them, they are at a loss at what to do next. With Allie's mother living in California and not really there for Allie in her time of need, her mother wants to move to California from Michigan but Allie really isn't having it since her one friend that keeps her grounded is in Michigan. Morgan is a ten year old who has been adopted into a family and self-harms herself to escape the pain she is dealing with. When Morgan leaves quietly from the home and with the family being extremely quiet about where she is, Allie takes it upon herself to go find Morgan and bring her to a safer place. It all leads to a road trip with Char trying to find the girls, when secrets about Morgan comes out and Char wanting to be the mother that she wants to be. With Allie's mother not liking what Allie has done and thinks that Char is a bad step-parent, it forces Char to make a heart-breaking decision that will leave everyone by the end of the book, where they are meant to be! This book was amazing and it brings up issues that you never think that happens but after reading this book, it does make you think about what is really going on with the whole foster care / adoption process. In my opinion what Allie's mother did was unscrupulous especially knowing that she doesn't really care for Allie except when it's on her terms but I know people like that and it makes you what went wrong in their life to treat their kids that way. That ending will have you on the edge of your seat just wanting to know how it ends up and it was bittersweet for that last chapter to wrap everything up and have it not perfect but perfect for that family! Thank You to Julie Lawson Timmer for writing a pretty good 2nd novel that made me become a fan of yours from this day forward!! I received this book from the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge 2016 in exchange for a honest review.