Finished October 3
Untethered by Julie Lawson Timmer
This novel begins just after the death of Bradley Hawthorne, husband of Char and father of Allie. Char gave up a fulfilling career as a journalism professor in Washington, D.C. when she met Bradley, moving to small town Michigan. Allie has been living most of the year with Bradley and Char, with brief visits to her mother Lindy in California. Now Char realizes that she has no legal parental rights with Allie, despite being one of her primary parents. Char has always been careful not to tread into Lindy's role as mother, and she doesn't know what to do to keep Allie living with her.
Allie takes seriously a role she herself stepped into as a tutor to a younger, troubled girl, Morgan. She meets Morgan formally once a week for sessions, but also has taken on the role of big sister to the girl. Morgan's parents are also dealing with some health issues for their younger child, Stevie.
As Char and Allie walk carefully into their new roles with each other, they are waiting for Lindy to make a definitive move. With Morgan's problems escalating, a move by Morgan's parents creates a crisis for Allie and Char, once that will have lasting changes to their lives.
This is a story today's complex families, with step parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, and friends and other family members complicating the family dynamic. When things are going well, everyone gets along, but when things aren't going well, power and feelings take on deciding roles that may not always look out for the best interests of all family members.
This is a story of families in all their complexity, with the mixed up feelings that go along with that. We are all human and some of us become stronger with adversity. Char and Allie are ones that become stronger, but it takes them awhile to figure out their new relationship and realize all they have to lose.