Synopses & Reviews
An illuminating, entertaining, and provocative immersion in todays American family, with essays from ZZ Packer, Dan Savage, Min Jin Lee, asha bandele, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, and others, illustrating the changing realities of domestic life.
Edited by bestselling author Rebecca Walker, this anthology invites us to step into the center of a range of different domestic arrangements and take a good look around. From gay adoption to absentee fathers, from open marriages to green-card marriages, the reality of the American household has altered dramatically over the last three decades. With changing values and expectations, fluid gender roles, and a shifting economy, along with increase in infertility, adoption, and the incidence of mixed-race couples, people across the country are redefining the standard arrangement of family life. In a collection of eighteen honest, personal, and deeply affecting essays from an array of writers, One Big Happy Family offers a fresh look at how contemporary families are adapting to this altering reality.
Each writing from the perspective of his or her own unique domestic arrangements and priorities, the authors of these essays explore topics like transracial adoption, bicultural marriage and children, cohousing, equal parenting, and the creation of virtual families. Dan Savage writes about the unexpected responsibilities of open adoption. Jenny Block tells of the pros and cons of her own open marriage. ZZ Packer explores the ramifications of, and her own self-consciousness about, having a mixed-race child. asha bandele writes of her decision to have a child with a man in prison for life. And Min Jin Lee points to the intimacy shared by a mother and her childs hired caregiver.
All of these pieces smartly discuss the various cultural pressures, issues, and realities for families today, in a manner that is inviting and accessiblesometimes humorous, sometimes moving, sometimes shocking, but always fascinating.
"These plainspoken, cage-rattling essays, collected by Walker (What Makes a Man), address how dramatically the traditional nuclear American family has changed. Jenny Block's 'And Then We Were Poly' sets the decidedly unconventional tone by insisting that her and her husband's embrace of other sexual partners allows them a more joyful, fulfilling commitment to each other. A gay couple adopts the child of a self-destructive street girl in Dan Savage's 'DJ's Homeless Mommy,' then tries to keep the mother in touch with her son. In 'Sharing Madison,' Dawn Friedman, another parent of an adoptee, writes of her agonizing process of overcoming the guilt she feels in having taken baby Madison away from her teenage mother. Antonio Caya, in 'Daddy Donoring,' recounts his rational decision to sire his friend's child, firmly remaining a donor, not a daddy, so as not to 'muddle the issue.' Children of mixed race force a much-needed altering of people's perceptions, as ZZ Packer explores in 'The Look,' while Susan McKinney de Ortega's choice to marry a much younger Mexican man and make a home in Mexico challenges the American notion of middle-class values. These fresh, diverse views represent an authentic, valuable new reality." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A moving, wildly diverse collection showing how radically different familial configurations can work.
Prompted by her experiences growing up in a family "fragmented and haunted by unfulfilled longings," Walker (Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence, 2007, etc.) looks beyond her well-publicized estrangement from her mother, novelist Alice Walker, to the lives of other writers "searching for authenticity through experimentation" in their domestic situations. The essays she assembles smash class, race and gender stereotypes to collectively demonstrate the fluidity of the contemporary family unit. Resisting the traditional boundaries of coupledom, Jenny Block, on the one hand, celebrates the openness of what she calls a "polyamorous marriage" with her husband and her girlfriend. On the other hand, Judith Levine and her boyfriend, together for 17 years, never married for a number of practical and philosophic reasons. Writes Levine: "A marriage may or may not be a union of love. It is always a union of property...I'd like the state to get out of the sexual-licensing business altogether, actually, for couples gay, straight, bi, or none of the above." Essays by Dan Savage and Dawn Friedman lay bare the highs and lows of open adoption. Savage details the difficulty he and his partner have in deciding what to say to their adoptive son when his homeless, substance- abusing biological mother drops out of touch for more than a year: "Which two- by-four to hit him with? That his mother was in all likelihood dead? Or that she was out there somewhere but didn't care enough to come by or call?" Friedman, while admitting to occasional twinges of jealousy and guilt evoked by having her daughter's birth mother integrated into their lives, trumpets openness for her daughter's sake: "She will never have to wonder why her first mother chose adoption; she can ask her." Rebecca Barry closes the anthology with a frank, humorous exploration of how she and her sister ended up in couples therapy.
Eye-opening and sometimes shocking, as it brilliantly explodes traditional notions about the nuclear family.
Kirkus Reviews (starred)
Edited by bestselling author Walker, this anthology invites readers to step into the center of a range of different domestic arrangements. In a collection of 18 honest, personal, and deeply affecting essays from an array of writers, "One Big Happy Family" offers a fresh look at how contemporary families are adapting to this altering reality.
More important and timely than ever-a collection of illuminating essays on the shifting definition of the modern American family.
Edited by bestselling writer Rebecca Walker, this fascinating exploration of today's American family features essays by prominent voices such as Z.Z. Packer, Dan Savage, Min Jin Lee, Asha Bandele, Neal Pollack, and others, on subjects such as:
• Open marriage
• Gay Marriage
• Green-card marriage
• Interclass Marriage
• Prison marriage
• Open adoption
• Transracial adoption
• Sperm donation
• Single motherhood
• Living with in-laws
• Parenting a disabled child
• Bisexual marriage
• Divorce Blended Families
• Bicultural families
• Relationships with child-care providers
• Multiracial families
• Home schooling
• Equal parenting
• Expatriate families
An unabashed celebration of love in all its diversity and complexity, One Big Happy Family is destined to become a definitive text on the modern American family.
About the Author
Rebecca Walker has received numerous awards and accolades for her writing and activism. Her work has appeared in many anthologies and publications; in addition to the international bestseller Black, White, and Jewish, her books include Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence, and the anthologies To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism, which has become a standard text in gender studies courses around the world, and What Makes a Man: 22 Writers Imagine the Future. A popular speaker at universities and in business settings, Walker teaches the art of memoir at workshops and writing conferences internationally. She lives in Hawaii.