Jennifer Wardrip's Reviews > My So-Called Family

My So-Called Family by Courtney Sheinmel
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Apr 18, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: trt-gold-star-award-winner, trt-posted-reviews

Reviewed by Tasha for TeensReadToo.com

Leah loves her family, she really does, but there just seems to be a hole that just can't seem to be filled. While she has a mom, she doesn't really have a dad. It's not that he's not around, as she has a great stepdad, but she's a donor child.

When trying to find out more about her donor, Leah comes across the Lyons Reproductive Services sibling directory, where a list of all the children that a donor has fathered is compiled. Using her "emergencies only" credit card (who wouldn't declare finding long-lost siblings an emergency?), she signs up to see the list and discovers that Donor 730 fathered four other children. The best part is that there's a girl who's exactly the same age as she is. Leah is too excited for words, but then there's the issue with her mom. See, her mom doesn't think there is anything wrong with the family that Leah currently has and doesn't understand that Leah feels incomplete.

While growing up, becoming a teenager, and dealing with the fun of eighth grade, Leah struggles to find out who her real family is. Rebelling against her parents, finding trustworthy friends, and, most of all, learning about oneself, we will all be able to relate to Leah's warm story.

What to say about this book? I loved it; it was heartfelt; it was magnificently constructed; or all of the above? Actually, MY SO-CALLED FAMILY was more than the above. Courtney Sheinmel created a one-of-a-kind novel that was one of the truest self-discovery stories I have ever read.

Whether old or young, everyone can relate to Leah. Whether it be finding the right friend that you can trust with a powerful secret, loving the skin you're in, or discovering the true meaning of family, we can learn so much from her. Leah also makes us remember what it was like to be an eighth grader, and she grew up in just the right way. She rebelled, she apologized, and most of all she didn't made it look easy. Most books these days show us that becoming a teen is easy for the most part. While you may hit a couple of bumps along the way, overall it will be like nothing happened. Courtney Sheinmel reminds us that it's not all fun and games, but we will survive.

Another great thing about this book is the reality of it. I could really envision Leah's life and felt like I was right there walking beside her. I loved how the sights were real and the story just unfolded in my head. I felt like I was actually living the story instead of just hearing it.

Overall, this was an amazing book that readers of any kind will enjoy. Whether you are a young reader, a teen, or even an adult, you will be mesmerized by Leah's story and will learn to truly value the meaning of family. I hope that Ms. Sheinmel will continue on as an author, as she has an amazing talent that definitely shone through in her debut novel.
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