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May 29, 2023

Hyphenated Relations by Daniel Maunz ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

"Blood tie are great if you need a kidney or something, but otherwise, 'family' means whatever the hell you want it to mean."  (p254)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of family saga Hyphenated Relations by Daniel Maunz
May 2023; Black Rose Writing; 978-1685131890
audio, ebook, print (269 pages); literary fiction

I loved this novel.  It touched my heart and it's a story that I won't soon forget.  It made me smile and it made me cry several times because the author gave his readers such a realistic look at well-written people that have significant decisions to make that will affect the rest of their lives.

Several years earlier, Sam's husband and mother-in-law were killed in a car accident.  Sam's way of coping with her grief was to become isolated from the world around her.  She did her hours at work and then came home to her house and read books.  She didn't want to spend social time with her work friends and didn't want to make new friends or even have a relationship with her father-in-law.  Her isolated life begins to crumble when her father-in-law, Harold, shows up at her house to tell her that he plans to get married again, and since Sam is his only family, Harold wants her to become part of the extended family including Marcie's 4 children.  Sam refuses and works to get back at her isolated life until one of Marcie's children connects with her to tell her that the children are opposed to the wedding.  She decides that she'll do what she can to help with the upcoming wedding, even to the point of trying to convince the four children that the marriage should happen.  She suddenly finds that she's part of a family - something that she has avoided since the death of her husband.  Through her encounters with Marcie's children, Sam is forced to confront the one question that she had sought to avoid since her husband's passing-whether she is done with the notion of "family" after all.

It's putting it mildly to say that Marcie's children are dysfunctional.  First off, they all have different fathers and even though they grew up together, they are all very different.  The three boys let Sadie, the only girl in the family, take the lead on everything in the family.  When she starts planning on ways to stop the wedding, they all agree with her - but are they really agreeing or are they afraid of their sister?  By the way, Sadie is one of the meanest and most manipulative characters that I've read in a long time.  Will Sam getting involved in the family issues help make the wedding happen or will she decide to continue her isolated life and let Harold and Marcie work it out for themselves?

Not to get too personal but I have (and probably still am) in Sam's shoes, grieving a loved one and not sure how to get beyond the lives of the characters in the books that I read.  The author did a fantastic job of writing Sam and the ways she was handling her grief.  My other favorite character was Marcie, who was a bit of a hippy and always saw the good in everyone.  She loved her children and even though they were not always nice to her, she always forgave them.   This is a fantastic well-written book about family -- sometimes the family you create out of the people you love can be more meaningful than those that are related to you by blood.

Buy Hyphenated Relations at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.

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