GAY WRITES REVIEW: Her Two Dads by Ariel Tachna

GAY WRITES REVIEW: Her Two Dads by Ariel Tachna

This review is part of our Gay Writes celebration. Don’t forget to comment on the original post for a chance to win one of those prizes as well as commenting on this post for a chance to win a copy of this book.

“Srikkanth Bhattacharya is a quintessential gay bachelor and perfectly happy about it-’until he gets a call from the local hospital telling him his best friend died in childbirth. Sri had agreed to provide the sperm to make Jill’s dream of motherhood come true, but he’d never expected to have to make decisions for a baby girl. He intends to place her with an adoptive family, but once he sees her, Sri can't bring himself to do it, so now he's struggling to learn how to deal with a newborn.

His housemate and friend, Jaime Frias, volunteers to help, never guessing he'll fall in love with both the baby and Sri. Everything seems perfect until a visit from Social Services sends Sri into a tailspin, feeling like he has to choose between his daughter and a relationship with the man he's coming to love.”

Dear Ms. Tachna,

I will admit that the fact that one of the protagonists is of Indian heritage is what got me interested in this book. From other things I’ve read and seen, I’ve gotten the impression that GLBT orientation isn’t widely accepted in India and I was curious as to how you would deal with this. I’d also tried a historical book you co-authored which hadn’t worked for me and though perhaps a contemporary might do better.

I think the shock Sri experiences upon learning of Jill’s death and his new responsibilities is done well. Ditto the part involving the social worker at the hospital and the nursing staff helping to train Sri once he’s met his little princess and fallen for her. Good job in adding sections to the book which show life with baby when it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Sri has moments of sheer terror which I’ve heard are common for most first time parents when the instruction manuals just aren’t enough to cope with the curves a baby will throw at you.

I love the scenes of Sri bonding with Sophie – telling her all about how he met her mother, of the great friendship they had and the plans Jill would have had for her daughter. It balances how Sri’s other room mate Nathaniel got irritated when his life got upended by a colicky baby screaming while he was trying to study.

Some sections of the story devolve into stereo instructions such as when Jaime and Sri first hit Babies R Us. I felt as if I were in an infomercial touting the wonders of the store crossed with a documentary instructing first time parents how to prepare for bringing baby home. There are just some things which could be mentioned but not explained in such detail or perhaps merely lightly touched on like all the effort that went into decorating Sophie’s bedroom.

Jaime is the perfect mother. No, I mean that. He knows everything about babies, doesn’t mind the nasty work, is calm, competent, willing to shoulder the colic load and rearrange his work schedule so Sophie doesn’t have to go to daycare. He’s a keeper even if it’s a bit hard to believe he’s so good.

There are a lot of scenes of Sri or Jaime coyly thinking the other isn’t interested in him. I almost felt like I was back in high school and these two should be passing “do you like me? check yes or no” notes. But though it takes a while to get to the sex, once it does these boys know how to pleasure each other. I like that they hold off on making love until it is just that for them: a celebration of their feelings for each other.

You mix a world that is seeming fairly gay friendly with some incidents that did leaven the fluffy bunny feeling I was getting. Points for making your point in a way that has been used against GLBT couples in real life. The call to social services would be terrifying and, as Sri thought, humiliating to have a cop going through your house. Yet as the social worker says, they have to respond to these calls. Still the thought that some yob with an agenda could vicariously invade your world would shake mine. Sri has a point that he can’t suddenly stop worrying about this even if his head tells him he can. Good for Jaime that he sticks to his guns about Sri working to overcome the fear and thus live a normal life for them and for Sophie.

I was wondering when Sri was finally going to tell his parents about Sophie. Were I them, I would also be pissed that they’d had a granddaughter for eight months without knowing anything about her. Then he also unloads all his news at once and tells them he’s Gay and getting married. Way to break things gently, Sri.

You use two cultures which, from my understanding, aren’t as Gay friendly to be the background for Jaime and Sri. Both are afraid that their lifestyle isn’t/won’t be accepted. Jaime tells Sri that he’s felt uncomfortable around his family since he came out and Sri still hasn’t told his parents. So I kind of expected some more fireworks when their families did get involved in the men’s life.

Usually I don’t care for epilogues but this one is a charmer. As I read what Sophie says to her teacher, I couldn’t help but think of the young daughter of a friend of mine. The things her mother says come out of her daughter’s mouth are hilarious as well as extremely mature. I can’t wait until this girl goes to school and my friend hears back from the teachers what her daughter says to them. Though I didn’t get the more in-depth exploration of how the men’s lifestyle will impact their relationships with their respective families, I did like the book and can see both Sri and Jaime being loving fathers and partners in life. B-

~Jayne

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