The Other F-Word by Natasha Friend

Publication Date: March 7th, 2017

“A fresh, humorous, and timely YA novel about two teens conceived via in vitro fertilization who go in search for answers about their donor.

Milo has two great moms, but he’s never known what it’s like to have a dad. When Milo’s doctor suggests asking his biological father to undergo genetic testing to shed some light on Milo’s extreme allergies, he realizes this is a golden opportunity to find the man he’s always wondered about.

Hollis’s mom Leigh hasn’t been the same since her other mom, Pam, passed away seven years ago. But suddenly, Leigh seems happy—giddy, even—by the thought of reconnecting with Hollis’s half-brother Milo. Hollis and Milo were conceived using the same sperm donor. They met once, years ago, before Pam died.

Now Milo has reached out to Hollis to help him find their donor. Along the way, they locate three other donor siblings, and they discover the true meaning of the other F-word: family.”

Review:

This story starts out when two lesbian couples go to use IVF to become pregnant. One couple have a girl named Hollis, while the other has a boy named Milo. They met at a very young age, and haven’t seen each other since. Milo suffers from severe allergies to many different things. Hollis has been dealing with a lot since one of her moms, Pam, died from cancer. Hollis’s other mom, Leigh, has been going a little out of her mind with the fact that the ghost of Pam still is with them, and when Milo reconnects with Hollis through Pam’s e-mail, Leigh believes it more than ever. It was a sign from Pam, according to Leigh. Leigh and Hollis hop on a plane to Brooklyn, New York where she spends a lot of time with her half brother and his best friend JJ Rabinowitz (winky face). When Milo and Hollis go through information, it turns out they have three other donor siblings (oh my god could you imagine!). Meeting again with the other siblings this time, they make a bond stronger than they’ve ever had before. This book was not only to show how donor kids feel (like they’re not good enough, etc.), but also shows that the other F-word – family, is the best thing you can have. Whatever life throws at you, your family is who will be by your side. I think this book definitely taught this very important lesson well.

There were many memorable moments in this book. I loved the fact that Natasha Friend brought some real issues and true definitions.

According to this article, “Regardless of socioeconomic status, donor offspring are twice as likely as those raised by biological parents to report problems with the law before age 25. They are more than twice as likely to report having struggled with substance abuse. And they are about 1.5 times as likely to report depression or other mental health problems.” Natasha Friend wrote about Milo who had this awful issue with allergies to food, pollen, etc., and it wasn’t his biological mother who had it, therefore, there would only be one option left. He felt excited to possibly know who his father was to get some answers about his medical history. Hollis was different than Milo. Hollis didn’t want to know who her father was because she got the feeling of being “damaged goods”. Her father didn’t want her. He went to this donor building, why? She wanted the answers without having to meet him. She was depressed, still reeling from her mother’s death seven years prior. Natasha Friend brought some real issues to light and I’m very glad she did so.

Next, I want to talk about the characters. The character development in this book was very well written. The way that Hollis was in the beginning of the book was frustrating. At 14, she is pretty out of control. I guess it’s possible to blame the fact she is depressed and dealing with bullying throughout the school day, but she is pretty reckless. At the end of the book, her character really figures out who she is. My favorite character in this book is JJ Rabinowitz. His dialogue actually made me laugh out loud multiple times. He has this “I don’t care attitude”, but yet he struggles with his own demons of being adopted. Again, Natasha Friend brought the struggles that an adopted child might feel into this book.

The only thing that I disliked (I wouldn’t even call it that) is the fact that each character was written seeming a little older than they actually were. Hollis especially was a little bad with this. There were times in this book where she was hooking up with a guy named Gunner and skipping class just to do that. I mean I guess I could see it today where things are pretty sexualized, but I think at 14 years old, that’s a problem. She has a loving mother at home, and she doesn’t realize that what she’s doing is wrong. I don’t see how it’s justifiable for a 14 year old. If she was written at age 16/17, I would’ve been better with it.

Overall, I think this book really hit a lot of great topics that need to be discussed: adoption, IVF, cancer, depression, anxiety, family, etc. Natasha Friend’s writing captivated me right from the beginning. The first few sentences had me wondering what was going to happen at the end. The end did surprise me and I definitely wouldn’t be mad if there was a sequel. If there isn’t, I think it’s great just the way it is.

Rating: ★★★★ 

 

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