Title: Between Mom and Jo
Author: Julie Anne Peters
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Number of Pages: 240
Nick lives with his two lesbian moms and even though he sometimes gets bullied about it by other kids, his life is mostly happy. His non-biological parent Jo is the fun spontaneous one, while Mom is more serious and uptight. When they get divorced and Mom starts seeing a new woman, Jo has no parental rights and Mom prevents Nick from seeing her.
Nick is devastated by the disintegration of his family and starts acting out at home, struggling to comprehend a future without Jo in it. The biggest strength of this book is its moral ambiguity. Neither of Nick’s moms are perfect, and there are a lot of times where they’re not even likable. Although on the surface it seems like Mom’s concerns about Jo as a caregiver are legitimate (she’s irresponsible and has a history of alcohol abuse,) her effort to all-out cut her out of Nick’s life is such a shitty power-play.
Maybe it’s partially because the author is a gay woman, but I thought Mom and Jo were better developed than Nick. I felt like Nick constantly had emotional breakdowns and even acted out violently at his moms, grabbing them and trying to hit them. I knew his situation sucked but jeez; he was fourteen, not two.
I found him very hard to relate to or sympathize with. The ending seemed a little abrupt and I wasn’t sure what incited his mom’s change of heart. It felt kind of like the author just decided that was the point where things should be resolved and made the characters act accordingly.
This is the first book I’ve read by Julie Anne Peters in years (I read Luna and By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead as a teenager) and I enjoy her emotionally affecting depictions of kids and families in crisis. The parents in her books tend to be oblivious and/or outright neglectful and it was nice to read something by her where the parental figures have a little more depth. This was a good read but not one of my favorites.