Wednesday, August 17, 2011

BETWEEN MOM AND JO by Julie Ann Peters

This is part of a series spotlighting gay parents in children's literature. Please visit Jonathan Arnston’s blog for more. Read my intro to our series on my post from Monday's, August 15.


Nicholas Nathaniel Thomas Tyler has four first names and two mothers. As the only child in his class with lesbian parents, he endures the taunts and prejudices of classmates and adults over the years as best he can, drawing reassurance and strength from his parents.

Challenges nearly overwhelm him, though, when their relationship ends; Jo moves out, and Nick, now a teenager, is left with Erin, his birth mother. 
Between Mom and Jo is separated into two sections—the first tells the story of the family structure; the roles each of his mother’s play in Nick’s life, his first crush, his love of cooking and pets. The second half tells the story of how the family falls apart; the cruelty of his birth mother (Erin) to Jo as they break up, the introduction of a new love in Erin’s life and how it affects Nick, and how he deals with the whole mess.

I liked this book a lot. The characters felt so real—Julie Anne does a great job making you feel the little quirks of all her characters. Everyone is flawed; and everyone has good qualities as well. The book spans about ten years. Told in first person, Nick narrates his childhood including the struggles with bullies who taunt him about his unique family, and his grandparents who haven’t always embraced their daughter’s lifestyle. In the end, his mothers’ marriage falls apart. Like any child dealing with divorce, he has to deal with the way his parents deal with the break up.

Very contemporary—published in 2006 by Little, Brown.

Julie Ann Peters is a prolific author with many books for young adults and middle grades, some of which are about the experience of growing up gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.


Heather Kelly said...

Kris--thanks for the excellent review. It's interesting that the book spans ten years. I find that to be a bit of a turn-off for me. Did you feel removed from the characters at all, since there was so much time covered? How did Julie Anne handle this?

Kristine Asselin said...

Good question Heather, it didn't bother me at all actually. The first part of the book is told basically in vignettes throughout Nick's life. He's remembering. The second half is more immediate--can't remember if it's in actual present tense or not, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was.
It basically comes down to the fact that, to Nick, Jo is his "real" mother even though she wasn't the one who delivered him. She was the one who nurtured him--and comforted him. And she's ripped out of his life by Erin, who has full custody.

Jonathon Arntson said...

I am not finished with BETWEEN MOM AND JO, but I agree with your well-written, condensed review. I also love that the book is not very old.

Heather Kelly said...

Oh, that sounds a little horrible. Poor kid.

Ansha Kotyk said...

Great review Kris. I checked out Julie Anne's site. Prolific! Her MG series looks like fun.

Kate Scott said...

This sounds great. Also it's great that you're bringing attention to these type of books. There should be more of them!