Sunday, October 14, 2007

Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky Book Review

Family Tree
By Barbara Delinsky
Doubleday 2007

Hugh Clarke is from a very prominent New England family. He can trace his fathers family all the way back to the Mayflower. They have "impeccable" credentials, including skin colour (although that is never mentioned in polite conversation).

Dana Joseph Clark grew up an orphan, raised by her grandmother. Her mother died when Dana was five. Her father is unknown, except for a name and an old college photograph.

When Dana and Hugh's first child Elizabeth is born, she has the distinct look of the African American. Her skin is tanned, and her black hair is tight and curly.

Hugh doesn't know quite what to think except that maybe Dana's unknown father has some African American blood. Hugh's family immediately assumes that Dana had an affair with an African American man. And Hugh makes things worse by asking Dana for a paternity test to prove that the child is his. The paternity test is positive.

Dana starts questioning Hugh's love for her and baby Lizzie. So Dana decides to track her father down. Using her mothers old letters in the attic that Grandma could not throw away, Dana finds out her father address, and she and Hugh pay him a surprise visit.

Back home, the pediatrician calls and ask for an appointment with Dana and Hugh. The routine tests done in the hospital when Lizzie was born indicates that she has the sickle cell trait. Only 1 in 12 African Americans carry the gene. The pediatrician has Dana and Hugh both tested. The results turn both their worlds upside down.

I read this book because I love genealogy, and am interested in genetics. I was curious to know how such a story might be done. I did enjoy the story, It certainly took me on an emotional roller coaster with the accusations against Dana.

If you have known one life style all your life, how would you react if it was changed suddenly? Perhaps you discover new siblings you didnt know about. Or maybe it turns out that your grandmother wasn't really your grandmother. How would you react?

This story is about those sort of reactions.


Marg said...

This sounds fascinating.

Thanks for the review!

heather (errantdreams) said...

Sounds interesting! And definitely like it's quite the roller-coaster ride!