cover image Stories from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families

Stories from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families

Elisabeth Sheff. Thorntree (Itasca, dist.), $17.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-9913997-7-2

Sheff (The Polyamorists Next Door) has collected an array of essays, poems, and drawings about polyamory (multiple committed romantic relationships, not to be confused with sex-only swinging) in this interesting compendium, along with a piece about her own experiences with the practice. Each contributor’s story is unique, but readers will recognize common threads, such as coming out to friends and extended family, and gradually establishing guidelines for a lifestyle without set rules or road maps. As pseudonymous writer Kitty Chambliss (who has a husband, a boyfriend, and two cats) observes, living an ethically non-monogamous life is “an unusual, charming, and oftentimes challenging choice.” The book is divided into six sections, including one about the effect of alternative family configurations on children; some of the pieces in that section are written by kids. Several writers mention that in addition to teaching kids that love is not a limited resource, polyamory makes parenting easier on a practical level: the more helping hands, the merrier. The challenges of dealing with jealousy, shame, marginalization, and heartbreak are also explored. Many of these stories focus on family ties, emotional commitment, and mutual respect rather than on sexual aspects of the relationships. Readers engaged in or curious about polyamorous families will find plenty to ponder in this eclectic and enlightening collection. (Oct.)