Blended: Writers on the Stepfamily Experience

Edited by Samantha Waltz. Seal, $16 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-58005-557-4
Family therapist Waltz (Parenting: Four Patterns in Childrearing) presents 30 essays about blended families from both prominent and lesser-known writers. The stories are organized in a “natural progression,” in five parts: Coming Together, Self-Discovery, Evolution, Acceptance, and Reflections (the last including a poem by prolific author Marge Piercy). Waltz, a stepmother to six of her nine children, shares her own stepfamily experience—including becoming a step-grandparent—in the introduction. The following pieces explore a variety of emotions, conflicts, and family configurations. Hip Mama editor Ariel Gore, in a brief foreword, warns against preconceptions of what a family “should” be, and indeed this collection describes many shapes and possibilities, including two women raising five children from their previous relationships, and parents with children of widely varying ages. A common thread addresses the challenges for stepchildren and stepparents striving to love and accept one another. Columnist Shannon Bardwell, who writes that she initially felt uncomfortable parenting her stepchild, eventually grew into her new role, concluding, “And so I sat tall in the chair of stepmom.” This eclectic collection may particularly appeal to readers in blended families, but others will also find inspiration and food for thought about what family truly means. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/23/2015
Release date: 04/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
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