(Once Upon A Book Club) Everybody’s Son by Thrity Umrigar (5 out of 5) 

This month’s Literature Bandits pick is by an author that I am a fan of, but honestly, haven’t read in awhile. I already had a classic and a memoir last month, so it was time for some straight up fiction goodness. Umrigar didn’t disappoint. 

Anton is a young boy sitting alone, locked in a humid apartment, for a week. The electricity has been shut off for non payment, there is no phone to call for help, the food is rotting away in the fridge, and the poor kid has no sir conditioning. What the hell is going on here?! Anton’s drug addict mother Juanita left him alone to go score drugs, only she never returns. The poor kid busts out a window, badly cuts himself in the process, and escapes. He is picked up and placed in protective custody. Meanwhile, lawyer David and his wife Dee have a rare chance to foster Anton while his mom goes to prison after child abandonment charges are brought against her. They jump at the chance, although they know it will bring challenges the like they have never seen. Anton is a young, streetwise African American kid going to live in an upper class neighborhood of white people. His schooling leaves a lot to be desired, and he struggles in the school he goes to, despite the homeschooling Dee gives him. Dee struggles with how tenacious David is about raising Anton past the foster period. The thing that drives David is his grief over the some he and Dee lost to a car accident. This very same grief causes David to make a very rash decision involving Anton’s future when his mom is due to be released from jail after several years. It changes the entire landscape of the book. Anton grows up to be an intelligent, outgoing young man who decides to run for a government office. In the midst of the electoral process, his dad suffers a heart attack, and Anton receives a letter from his long absent mother, now living in Georgia. The contents of this letter..one line in particular…cause the young man to see red, and he decides to make a secret trip to Georgia to confront his mom. What he learns from that makes him question those who raised him, the values he believes in, and yes, even himself. Wow. What a book!! I was rooting for Anton the whole book. And although I wanted to punch David for his selfish (or is it selfless?) gesture regarding his foster son and the biological mother, I had to recognize it came from a place of deep-rooted fear and grief. The importance of one’s roots and family tree are universally stressed here. The importance of the unrequited love for someone to have a better life than the shit pile of cards they have been dealt is a huge factor in the story here. But no one should take for granted your family tree, and that gets a very real testimonial throughout the story. Umrigar has taken the reader on an inspiring, heart-rending story of family, loss, and love. Love is the universal theme here. It colors perceptions as much as it colors the pages. But, dear reader, you would be remiss for not opening your heart to this story. And yes, it’s a wonderful story, especially for a book club. Do it. 

~ by generationgbooks on June 16, 2017.

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