What It Is About: Sumac is one of many children living in a very large house with lots of activity going on. Each child, whether biological or adopted, has been named after a tree by their four parents. Yes, that is right; four parents. There are two mothers that are partners and two fathers that are married. Life is wild, fun, free, and full of adventure in this house. The kids don't attend traditional school. They are "schooled" living their real lives in the real world. Life for this family takes a turn when they find out that one of their "gramps" is suffering from an illness and needs to come live with the Lottery family. Sumac isn't sure she is in favor of this "change", but really begins to dislike it when she is displaced from her own room and "gramps" takes the space over. She begins to hatch a plan to convince the family that he should be "placed" elsewhere and they should get back to normal. Sumac, along with her family, learn some valuable life lessons about what truly makes up a family and what family members do for each other.
What I Thought Of It: This is a hard one for me to describe. There were moments, mostly at the beginning and middle, when I wasn't sure of the story. I had a hard time following it and/or being interested in the plot. As I got to the middle and toward the end, the story began to grow on me. I enjoyed the character of Sumac and could feel what she was going through with the grandfather changing up her life in the Lottery's home. I couldn't decide what age group this was most appropriate for. The fact that there were four parents and a variety of life-styles presented, lead me to believe it is a novel for upper elementary. I have no problem sharing books that show the "real world", but unfortunately teach in a very conservative district. I have read Emma Donoghue's adult novels and prefer those to this middle-grade story.
Who Should Read It: As I just mentioned, this is a hard one for me to decide upon. The story is fine for all readers in middle grades. There is the theme of same-sex marriage and alternative life-styles. This may not be a problem in some districts, but could cause some questions in others. I think the book would be perfect for readers in grades six, seven, and/or eight. The reading level would be fine for students in grades four and/or five. It would just be the content that might want to be considered. Happy Reading!
Rating: 3 STARS out of 5 Stars