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Untethered Hardcover – June 7, 2016
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Praise for Untethered
“A complex story about a nontraditional but often familiar family. … Timmer handles the sensitive, emotionally charged nature of her plot with reverence and openness, avoiding harsh judgments. Untethered is a beautiful mosaic of love's many fragments, no matter how shattered.”—Shelf Awareness
“Examines human relationships and the concept of family in a very modern, relatable setting.”—REDBOOK
“Gripping and thoughtful new novel” – Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author of The One and Only
“Captivating characters and a plot that will keep the pages turning through to the climactic end.”—RT Book Reviews
“A thoughtfully written and ultimately uplifting celebration of families that are not bound by blood or by law but by love.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Harper Lee famously wrote that you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. In Untethered, Julie Lawson Timmer makes mincemeat of this old chestnut, proving that a modern family can indeed consist of people who find their own way to each other, however circuitously. The pulse of the story is in the journey, and the triumph is in the unexpectedness of the destination. If you’re inclined to gently strong-arm your book club, Timmer’s is a poignant page-turner worth going to the mat for.”—Elisabeth Egan, author of A Window Opens
About the Author
Julie Lawson Timmer grew up in Ontario and earned a bachelor’s degree from McMaster University before heading south of the border. She has a law degree from Southern Methodist University and works as in-house legal counsel in Michigan. She is the author of Five Days Left and lives in Ann Arbor with her husband and children.
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Top customer reviews
Reading it, you will learn about Char, the career woman from DC who gave up her job to move to small town Michigan and step into a ready made family, with her perfect husband Bradley and cool daughter Allie. (Bio Mom Lindy is conveniently out of the picture, having moved to California to be irresponsible, as California women do. Lindy is basically Meryl Streep from Kramer vs. Kramer, a cliche that has never gone out of style.) This idyllic setup is ruined when Bradley dies in a car crash; suddenly, without Bradley to define them, all three women are adrift. Char doesn't know if she still is (or ever was) a Mom, Lindy still doesn't really want to be a Mom, and Allie is in the unfortunate position of having both two Moms and none at all.
Add in another plot twist of a young girl, Morgan, who Allie is tutoring. Morgan has a complicated backstory that will become more complicated as the book goes on, throwing everything into turmoil.
Now, as you read that synopsis, I imagine you have one of three reactions.
Reaction A: "That sounds terrific!" If that is your reaction, read the book! It will not disappoint you.
Reaction B: "That sounds maudlin and contrived." If that is your reaction, move on. It will not surprise you.
Reaction C: "Maybe? I need more information." Personally, I would fall in Reaction C myself, had I read that. I DO like a good thorny moral issue, and I DO like stories about women grappling with questions of family and identity. But as I've read more of these books, over the years, I've become a bit numb and maybe a bit cynical.
For me, this book just felt inauthentic. Like a recipe for women's fiction created by a computer algorithm: start with career woman and blended family. Mix in unexpected death plus thorny moral issue plus hot button topic (foster parenting). Spice with secondary characters and sub-plot to taste. Bake for 300 pages. Frost with happy ending. Serves at least five thousand in first printing. For some reason, it never felt real to me. In particular, I would say about 90% of the plot developments happened in the last 50 pages, and the "happy ending with bonus bittersweet flavoring" felt less earned and more like it was filling out the last points of the algorithm.
But this is a tried and true recipe, and I say with all sincerity, if it is something you enjoy, it is a nice piece of comfort food. For me, it felt just a little too synthetic, not enough original flavor or quality ingredients.
But then the worst happens: Brad is killed in an auto accident. Though Allie is doing very well in school and has good (in the sense of “close” and “well-behaved”) friends and an excellent relationship with Char, that vanishes because of the “step” in “step-parenting” when Brad dies. Lindy, normally very insistent and accustomed to her own way, becomes more so when Allie starts to run with not-so-desirable friends and her grades start to falter.
Bad friends and all, Allie was a volunteer tutor for a ten-year-old girl in their town whose adoptive parents were good friends of the Hawthorns. But the younger girl disappears, unraveling Allie’s life even more.
Surprises – and unexpected answers to bad situations – abound in this novel. Those who like Jodi Picoult’s work will become fans of Timmer, too.
Most recent customer reviews
This is a box of tissues needed book for the last few chapters, with a happy but...Read more