Description: Char Hawthorn, college professor, wife and stepmother to a spirited fifteen-year-old daughter, loves her family and the joyful rhythms of work and parenting. But when her husband dies in a car accident, the “step” in Char’s title suddenly matters a great deal. In the eyes of the law, all rights to daughter Allie belong to Lindy, Allie’s self-absorbed biological mother, who wants the girl to move to her home in California.
While Allie begins to struggle in school and tensions mount between her and Char, Allie’s connection to young Morgan, a ten-year-old-girl she tutors, seems to keep her grounded. But then Morgan, who was adopted out of foster care, suddenly disappears, and Char is left to wonder about a possible future without Allie and what to do about Morgan, a child caught up in a terrible crack in the system.
At first glance, “Untethered” by Julie Lawson Timmer seemed like a straightforward, happily ever after story. While it can still be considered that, it was so much more. “Untethered” began with the death of Bradley Hawthorn and its effect on his wife Char and daughter Allie. Being Allie’s stepmother, Char no longer has any claim in Allie’s life. Their complicated bond is further tested by the disruption Lindy, Allie’s biological mom, consistently causes.
This was a poignant and heartfelt book about the bond of family and the intricacies that come with a mixed family where not everyone is blood-related. Julie sheds light on the balance needed to build and maintain the complex relationships of step-relations. The tug of war Char experiences throughout the book of wanting to be a mom to Allie, but not wanting to overstep her bounds was moving in itself, but what really took the novel to the next level was Morgan’s character.
Allie had met Morgan through a tutoring program and they had become quite attached. Morgan was a foster child with a difficult past, but a huge heart. The journey Allie and Char individually take when Morgan mysteriously disappears made this one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.
The characters are well-developed and relatable. The only negative point I can make is that Char’s continuous analyzation of seemingly small details in her relationship with Allie gets exasperating at times, but I’ve never been part of a step-family and the minutiae were very realistic and well thought out.
Overall, this was a heartrending story and as soon as I finished the book, I wanted to start it all over!
*I received this book through BookSparks for participating in #SRC2016 in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.