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Family Tree Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767925181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767925181
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #805,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Dana and Hugh Clarke's baby is born into their wealthy, white New England seaside community, the baby's unmistakably African-American features puzzle her thoroughly Anglo-looking parents. Hugh's family pedigree extends back to the Mayflower, and his historian father has made a career of tracing the esteemed Clarke family genealogy, which does not include African-Americans. Dana's mother died when Dana was a child, and Dana never knew her father: she matter-of-factly figures that baby Lizzie's features must hark back to her little-known past. Hugh, a lawyer who has always passionately defended his minority clients, finds his liberal beliefs don't run very deep and demands a paternity test to rule out the possibility of infidelity. By the time the Clarkes have uncovered the tangled roots of their family trees, more than one skeleton has been unearthed, and the couple's relationship—not to mention their family loyalty—has been severely tested. Delinsky (Looking for Peyton Place) smoothly challenges characters and readers alike to confront their hidden hypocrisies. Although the dialogue about race at times seems staged and rarely delves beyond a surface level, and although near-perfect Dana and her knitting circle are too idealized to be believable, Delinsky gets the political and personal dynamics right. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

The old and illustrious New England Clarke family has a new member, and she is not what the family envisioned. Elizabeth Clarke, a beautiful daughter born to Hugh and Dana, possesses definite African American traits, leaving the parents puzzled and the extended Clarke family scandalized. Hugh's parents believed that he was marrying down when he chose Dana, who has no idea who her father is and no desire to find out. Now, on what should be a joyous occasion, the birth of their first child, Hugh and Dana are struggling with issues of race, family, and trust. As Dana's family history and fidelity are questioned, Hugh, who thought he was above racism, now wants his wife to find out the truth about her heritage. While Dana searches for her father and Hugh's family pressures him to find out for certain if the child is indeed his, Hugh must confront the truth about himself, his family, and their racist attitude while also trying to reconcile his own attitude toward his daughter. Delinsky often writes with insight about complex family matters and here adds thought-provoking concerns about race in America to the mix in a novel that will stir debate and inspire self-examination. Patty Engelmann
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Barbara Delinsky, author of SWEET SALT AIR (2013), ESCAPE (2011), NOT MY DAUGHTER (2010), WHILE MY SISTER SLEEPS (2009), THE SECRET BETWEEN US (2008), and FAMILY TREE (2007), has written more than twenty-one bestselling novels with over thirty million copies in print. She has been published in twenty languages worldwide. Barbara's fiction centers upon everyday families facing not-so-everyday challenges. She is particularly drawn to exploring themes of motherhood, marriage, sibling rivalry, and friendship in her novels.

A lifelong New Englander, Barbara earned a B.A. in Psychology at Tufts University and an M.A. in Sociology at Boston College. As a breast cancer survivor who lost her mother to the disease when she was only eight, Barbara compiled the non-fiction book Uplift: Secrets From the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors, a handbook of practical tips and upbeat anecdotes. She donates her proceeds from the sale of this book to her charitable foundation, which funds an ongoing research fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Barbara enjoys knitting, photography, and cats. She also loves to interact with her readers through her website at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter as @BarbaraDelinsky.

Customer Reviews

It was like watching a soap opera of sterotypical characters.
Completely contrived plot line, characters who don't seem real, and a complete disconnect between the premise and the follow through.
L. McDaniel
The people are one-dimensional and there are too many plot lines that are left hanging at the end.
D. Lange

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Ratmammy VINE VOICE on July 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
FAMILY TREE by Barbara Delinsky
July 28, 2007

Amazon Rating: 4/5 stars

I hadn't read a Barbara Delinsky book in quite a while (years) so this one was a treat. In FAMILY TREE, Dana Clarke is pregnant. She and her husband Hugh are expecting their first child with much anticipation. She is looking forward to raising her own family and creating a loving home, something she didn't have when she was growing up.

When she finally gives birth to her daughter, there is a big shock. While Dana and Hugh are both obviously white, their newborn daughter is not. She's definitely of African American descent, and now Dana is wondering who in her family was black. Hugh is able to trace his ancestry several centuries back, but there are a number of unknowns in Dana's background, including a father she knows nothing about. The birth of her daughter has now forced Dana to go in search of her roots, because it seems that Hugh isn't even sure he can trust Dana, accusing her of having an affair, possibly with their neighbor.

FAMILY TREE is about racism, and whether color has anything to do with what a person is really all about. Hugh loves his wife, but Dana feels that because he thinks she's part black, he is treating her differently. Her in-laws also find more reason to fault her, as they didn't quite welcome her with open arms to begin with. I enjoyed the book a lot, as I found the search for Dana's roots interesting. There was a lot of tension between Dana and Hugh as they try to find out where the missing link in the family tree is coming from. There is a big surprise towards the end of the story, however, and while I suspected it at first, it still came as a shock to me when it was revealed. FAMILY TREE was a fast read and fans of Barbara Delinsky and women's fiction will be sure to enjoy this one.
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68 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Dera R Williams VINE VOICE on August 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In this enlightened year of 2007, intelligent, educated people accept people for who they are, right? So what if you happen to be mixed race. Well, as long as it isn't in a blue blood family. Barbara Delinsky puts a new twist on the term "reaching back". That term refers to how a baby can reach back and take on the physical traits of an ancestor. This is what happens when Dana and Hugh, a white couple, have a baby girl who comes out with obvious African features. Hugh comes from a Brahmin New England family. His father, a professor, proudly writes about his forebears aristocratic bearing.

The premise was good,however, I found the execution to be flawed on so many levels. The condescending manner of most of the white characters and the self-deprecating manner of the token Black characters were very irritating. Another thing, all the "Black" or African American characters were bi-racial. I kept scratching my head. It's like Delinsky didn't know that Blacks could be mixed without being biracial.

David, the neighbor, left a bad taste in my mouth. He was a self-deprecating, self-hating person. He wished his half-white daughter was all white. "Life would be easier for her," he wishes he were white and, he is in love with Dana, the protagonist, and basically lives white. We find out later he is indeed biracial but his description does not lend itself to that. He was a pitiful character, whining about being black and mooning over Dana. The characters were obviously drawn from a white writer who has limited experience with blacks and therefore the integrity of the storyline was compromised. She could have asked somebody.

As a genealogist and researcher of African American culture, I am well aware of the dynamics of mixed blood and how it is played out in America.
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45 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Holly TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I normally love Barbara Delinsky books (read my review on "Summer I Dared), but this was an exception. Ms. Delinsky comes across as wanting to write a "serious" book about "serious" issues and the whole thing fails miserably. It feels very, very forced. The characters are contrived and they behave in ways that make absolutely no sense. Some of the characters change positions without any warning or explanation. All of the characters act like small children wanting their way and oblivious of those around them and how they feel. This would make sense for some characters, but NONE of them act like the mature/successful/intelligent people Ms. Delinsky describes them to be. It feels like the characters do and say things to make a point Ms. Delinsky wants to make rather than that being how the character would think or behave. I found myself thinking "you have got to be kidding" more times than I can say as I read this book.

I can't go into plot line without having "spoilers" which will prevent this from being posted, but just let me say ..... if you want to read it, go to the library. Please don't spend your hard-earned money on this !
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43 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Kay on February 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a huge Barbara Delinsky fan, but FAMILY TREE simply didn't live up to my expectations. As another reviewer said, I couldn't identify with these characters. The premise was fantastic -- in fact, my first thought upon reading about the book was, I wish I'd thought of it first. :) I especially had problems with Hugh. From the moment he insisted upon DNA testing, I disliked him, and nothing he did after that redeemed him in my eyes. Dana, too, gave me problems. Why she acted the way she did about finding her father mystified me. And the way she behaved AFTER she found him made me dislike her, too. In fact, no one in this book behaves in a reasonable or sensible way. And no one is very likable.

The prose is pure Delinsky -- clean and spare -- always great. But it's really frustrating when I plunk down cash for a hard cover novel by an author I expect to really enjoy and then the story and characters disappoint big time.

However, I'll still keep buying Delinsky in hopes that FAMILY TREE is simply an exception to her usual skillful and enjoyable stories.
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