The Other F-Word

Natasha Friend. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-374-30234-4

This wonderfully quirky novel about family—the “other f word” referred to in the title—stars Hollis and Milo, two oddball high school students. Milo lives in Brooklyn, Hollis is in Minnesota, both have lesbian parents, and their only tie to each other is a shared sperm donor. Milo’s severe allergies propel his decision to find his biological father for genetic testing, and he enlists the reluctant Hollis to help. (They’ve only met once, at the request of Hollis’s late mother Pam, whose presence still hangs over the family seven years after her death.) In the process, they discover additional half-siblings, and four of them (plus “honorary” half-sibling J.J., Hollis’s romantic interest) join forces to find Donor #9677. Writing in third-person, Friend (Where You’ll Find Me) shifts focus between Hollis and Milo, keeping the mood light and heartfelt as she celebrates the bonds that emerge between newfound siblings and turns their paternal search into an engrossing adventure. This is a joyful, emotional story full of love, humor, and the messiness of family, no matter the shape it takes. Ages 12–up. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Mar.)