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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters returns with a striking and intimate new novel about three very different adoptive mothers who face the impossible question: What makes a family?

Though they look like any other family, they aren’t one—not quite. They are three sets of parents who find themselves intertwined after adopting four biological siblings, having committed to keeping the children as connected as possible.

At the heart of the family, the adoptive mothers grapple to define themselves and their new roles. Tabitha, who adopted the twins, crowns herself planner of the group, responsible for endless playdates and holidays, determined to create a perfect happy family. Quiet and steady Ginger, single mother to the eldest daughter, is wary of the way these complicated not-fully-family relationships test her long held boundaries. And Elizabeth, still reeling from rounds of failed IVF, is terrified that her unhappiness after adopting a newborn means she was not meant to be a mother at all. 

As they set out on their first family vacation, all three are pushed into uncomfortably close quarters. And when they receive a call from their children’s birth mother announcing she is pregnant again, the delicate bonds the women are struggling to form threaten to collapse as they each must consider how a family is found and formed.

©2022 Eleanor Brown (P)2022 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

One of:
Real Simple's Best Books of 2022
Southern Livings’s Beach Reads Perfect for Summer 2022
Entertainment Weekly’s 16 Novels We’re Excited for This Summer

"A tearjerker that nails the issues of fertility, adopton, and raising kids, this is a conversation starter about parenthood you don't want to miss." Real Simple
 

“[A] treat of a novel…[Brown] examines the pressures placed on mothers while considering what makes a family and comes up with a wonderful answer: commitment and love.” Minneapolis Star Tribune
 

 “Brown explores the meaning of motherhood and the limits of a blended family in her vivid character study of four biological siblings adopted by three sets of parents, set across the span of a single (and singular) vacation.” Entertainment Weekly

What listeners say about Any Other Family

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  • Overall
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fascinating approach to open adoption

slow engagement initially and well worth my time and patience! interesting characters and universal parenting challenges.

2 people found this helpful

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Worth the listen

I took a chance on this listen since it had no reviews at the time I downloaded, and I'm glad I did. The women in this book are frustrating in the way that makes me realize their faults are also a lot of my faults. As I was grumbling at them for not standing up for themselves, I also was having to be honest with myself about my own silence when people press my boundaries. I appreciate that in a story, and was pleasantly surprised since I am not a mother and have no plans to be a mother any time soon.

The story is told from the three mothers' points of view, and interspersed are little snippets from the potential adoptive parents they come across in their efforts to find the right home for a coming baby. It took me a bit to figure that out, since there isn't really any indication in the audiobook except the switch of narrators. it becomes obvious as the story progresses, but at first it was confusing.

I have four stars because the story felt a bit too tidy, and then still left a big unknown in a way that made me shout out loud. I wish the author had either left more up for the imagination, or just drawn all the lines together.

Overall this story gives a look into adoptive motherhood that feels important, especially as many millennials my age grapple with whether to have kids at all, adoptive or otherwise. I especially appreciated the exploration of the emotions that accompany adoption and infertility.

Even if the topic of adoption doesn't interest you, this is a good story of three women working through their faults to build a family in a thought-provoking and moving way. Plus, there was one moment where a character literally made me laugh out loud, which to me was evidence that the character development had been very effective.

2 people found this helpful

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What is a family?

Although I am an ardent fiction reader, I do read to learn; empathy is something I have gained through reading. Learning about different cultures, even in a fictional story, is a way to learn. In “Any Other Family”, which explores families, what it means to be a family, and open adoptions and family, I learned more than I expected. Author Eleanor Brown sneaks in the overwhelming emotions that lead to adoption, mostly infertility, the years and years of infertility and the heartbreaking losses of miscarriages. This sounds like a sad, miserable story, but it is not. Brown deftly adds humor and human hijinks to the story. Three families connected by their children who embark on a two-week family vacation! What could possibly go wrong? Think of your family vacations with just one set of parents, now there are three, not including the birth mother. Can you say “Forced Family Fun?”

“They look like any other family,” Brown writes. “They are a family formed by three sets of parents who adopted from the same group of biological siblings.”

Brianna, the birth mother, had one child and realized she could not take care of her. She decided to place her child up for adoption, with the caveat that it’s open. The adoptive parent agreed. Brianna chose her child’s preschool teacher; it was easy. And then, Brianna finds herself pregnant again! With twins! She finds a couple who agree to the open adoption and to include the other family in important family events. The mother of the twins, Tabitha, is an organizer. She takes control of the family events, birthday parties, holidays, occasional Sunday dinners. Brianna gets pregnant again. It is Tabitha who finds a family for the fourth child. Tabitha arranges this 2-week family vacation for all three families which now total four siblings. Brianna is to attend the family vacation, and calls in last minute, saying she cannot make it because, surprise! She’s pregnant….again.

Brianna, whom Brown spends little time on developing her character, is almost a side note. Brown never addresses how this woman can irresponsibly keep getting pregnant when she knows she cannot take care of her children. Plus, she makes the parents of her children find the other parents. She cannot be bothered. This irresponsibility is not addressed well, for me anyway. The oldest child is entering middle school. The youngest is still an infant.

I believe Brown had Brianna pass her responsibility of finding adoptive parents so that she could show in the story the sadness of the families who want to adopt. How she did that is through brief interludes of letters from prospective parents. Through the letters the reader feels the emotional rollercoaster of people wanting to adopt.

Each mother has her own chapter, providing alternating perspectives, and we learn their inner thoughts, fears, strengths, and dreams. Brown writes them with attention and kindness showing their humanity. We learn of the highly relatable complexities and nuances of each character. Even bossy Tabitha, the mother hen, we learn of her true intentions, and she becomes more relatable and enduring.

“How odd that they came on vacation only to feel further apart from each other. When she thinks of how close she hoped they would all become during these weeks together, she doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry.”

In her Author’s Note, Brown informs the reader that she is an adoptive mother of a son. She intended to write a story of adoption exploring all the variables involved in adoptions. She’s an advocate of adoption and wanted to show how adoptive families choose to structure their families. She also showcased the emotional journey parents must go through to get to the decision to adopt. She admitted that she could not address all complexities of adoption in one story, and this is NOT a story of all adoptions.

I chose to listen to the audio, narrated by Brittany Pressley and 8 others who read the letters of prospective adoptive parents. The audio was done very well.

Motherhood and blended families are highlighted here. This is a story of family, made by choice, with the ideal of healthy, grounded children as the main intention.









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Amazing novel

The novel is so captivating and so rich on details!
Loved it from beginning to end!!

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What is family?

This story attempts to answer the question of what makes a family, and does it quite well. All narrators are excellent, with Brittany's performance being a stand out among the rest. A great cast of characters as well.