Sara has given up her dream of medical school to take care of her orphaned brother and sisters. Then their other flaky brother shows up, after years of absence, and upsets the home Sara has created, making promises to his younger siblings to win their support. The plot shows Sara's challenge of dealing with a stressful job, acting as a parent to her siblings, dealing with a brother she doesn't trust, and balancing those responsibilities with creating a satisfying life for herself. Lots of drama but believable.
The Real Mother was published in 2005, but it is still relevant. The plot kept me interested and I cared about the characters. I also enjoyed the writing. This is a book I'll read again.
Sara arrived at the airline terminal as the Corcorans walked out, trailed by a young man pushing a cart piled with luggage. She wedged her car between taxis and stepped out to open the trunk and the two passenger doors before extending her hand to Lew Corcoran. "Sara Elliott," she said. "Welcome to Chicago."
Friday 56 (from Page 156 in my hardback):
Her glance lingered on Sara, taking in her brown-and-ivory checked shirt and narrow khaki pants, sleeker and probably a lot more expensive than any clothes worn by the marchers, then came back to Reuben. "Organized it? I don't know...."
Genre: Women's Fiction
Book Length: 421 Pages
Amazon Link: The Real Mother
Author Website: Judith Michael (Judith Barnard & Michael Fain)
Synopsis (from Amazon):
Sara Elliott has been forced to give up the life she's dreamed of to return home to Chicago and take charge of her sisters and brother. She finds a job and settles into the house she grew up in, building a life for ten-year-old Doug and teenagers Carrie and Abby.
But Sara has another brother, Mack, now twenty, who left home three years earlier. Suddenly he reappears, cheerful and unconcerned, as if he had never broken his promise to stay and help Sara with the children and the house. With bewildering volatility, Mack swings from kindness to cruelty, affection to hostility, keeping the family always on edge, his past and present a mystery. But with expensive gifts, storytelling, and the excitement of his presence, he is winning over the children, and sometimes the four of them stand together against Sara.
Mack challenges all Sara has achieved in trying to be a mother and keep her family together. And he does it at a time when she is confronted by crises at work that spill over into her home. Suddenly, events seem to be speeding past and Sara feels she cannot slow them down to regain control.
And then, when she thinks her life has room only for work and family, she meets Reuben Lister, a client from New York. As Sara helps him find and furnish a house and explore the city, they discover a closeness neither has known before and share new ways of dealing with conflicts each has always faced alone. Together, Sara and Reuben find answers to the questions: What is a mother? What is a parent? What is a family?
This is Judith Michael's most poignant exploration of the pressures and joys facing modern adults and children, in a story that will resonate with everyone for its universal themes and discoveries.