REVIEW: Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters
Dear Ms. Peters:
When this book turned up in the mail, I wasn’t really excited about it. First, it wasn’t a romance. Second, the narrator was male, or in this case, a preteen boy. But the clarity of emotions shown through with each word and I couldn’t help but be engrossed by the end of the first chapter in Nick’s life and his struggles in being the son of two moms. Even though I prefer romances, more than anything that I like to read about people, their lives, and their relationships and the soul deep feeling that comes when one person loves another. Your story featured a deep love that Nick had for both his moms and how that love can cause both pain and joyousness.
Nick is the product of artificial insemination. His “mom” is Erin, a responsible, uptight, emotional woman whose partner is Jo. Jo battles alcoholism, the inability to forgive, and the failure to grow up. Jo and Erin are flawed women and it was fascinating to see how their lives mirrored so many hetereosexual troubled marriages. Partnership problems are not solely the exclusive right of different sex couples. Nick, however, has to deal with the societal problems of being the child of a same sex couple (Dickless Nicholas was his nickname from 5 years old on up) on top of the fact that his two moms are breaking up.
The emotions of Nick are genuine, from the bewilderment at having two moms, to the fear of Erin’s cancer, to his anger at the two moms’ split. Nick’s narration is what holds this book together even though the characterizations of the mothers seem a bit flat. Both characters seem to be at the spectrum’s end instead of being toward the middle. Jo is too much of a best friend to Nick and Erin is too aloof. But the emotions Nick felt seemed all to real. When Nick’s homophopic 3d grade teacher responds to criticism by changing all of Nick’s grades to As, even when he is purposely missing answers, Nick monologues:
There are lots of differet ways of taking it out on people, like making them feel they don’t even exist.
The ending was too simplistic for me to buy and the demonization of one parent over the other seemed clumsy compared to the poignancy that you handled most of the other parts of the book. I really didn’t buy into Nick being truly happy at the end, only happy that he got his own way. Whether that would last seemed debatable. I had no regrets reading this book and wouldn’t hesistate to recommend this story to others. B for you.