Books Kids Fiction My So-Called Family

My So-Called Family

 
5.0
 
4.0 (3)
630   0
Age Range
10+
ISBN
1416957855
Buy This Book
      

Editor reviews

Ever since she was little, Leah's known where she came from: her mother and a donor from Lyons Reproductive Services. She enjoyed life as an only child and didn't mind having a single parent. When her mother got married, Leah gained a stepfather - and later, a little half-brother - who loved her unconditionally. Though very content with her home life, Leah's always had questions about her biological father, questions her mother can't answer. She doesn't know his name, only knows that he was Donor 730, and that her mother selected him based on certain attributes listed in his profile at the clinic.

Shortly after her family moves to a new town, Leah befriends classmates at her new school. That fresh start, along with the family tree assignment given to her little brother, prompts Leah to once again wonder if her donor had any more children. Thanks to an online match system - which she keeps secret from her mom - Leah finds other kids who were fathered by Donor 730. She quickly bonds with a girl her age named Samantha. She is comforted and contented by meeting her half-siblings. She doesn't search for them in an effort to upset her mother, but rather to find what she feels is a missing piece of herself, her history.

I really liked the fact that Leah loved and valued her mother, her stepfather, and her half-brother. She was grateful for her family and never pushed them away. She was frustrated and confused at times, but she was never mean nor difficult on purpose. Instead of having a rebellion or acting out, she truly had a search, something she wanted and needed to do for herself. When she bends the rules, and again when secrets are revealed, she apologizes and she tells the truth.

Sheinmel's young characters sound and act their age. Dialogue between them rings true, as do Leah's thoughts. Each of Leah's new friends - Avery, Brenna and Callie, and, later, her half-sister Samantha - has her own personality and family. Even Avery's college-bound brother Chase factors into the story, as Leah watches him interact with his sister, his father, and his girlfriend, Lizzie. I really enjoyed Leah's stream-of-consciousness narration. She felt so real, so honest. I was utterly delighted by her younger brother. Carefree five-year-old Charlie says the sweetest, smartest things, a combination of intelligence and imagination.

My So-Called Family by Courtney Sheinmel gets my recommendation - and my appreciation. This is a great story about family values and valuing your family. This notable debut has earned a spot on my Best Books of 2008 list.
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0
Little	Willow Reviewed by Little Willow October 31, 2008
Top 50 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (78)

Family First

Ever since she was little, Leah's known where she came from: her mother and a donor from Lyons Reproductive Services. She enjoyed life as an only child and didn't mind having a single parent. When her mother got married, Leah gained a stepfather - and later, a little half-brother - who loved her unconditionally. Though very content with her home life, Leah's always had questions about her biological father, questions her mother can't answer. She doesn't know his name, only knows that he was Donor 730, and that her mother selected him based on certain attributes listed in his profile at the clinic.

Shortly after her family moves to a new town, Leah befriends classmates at her new school. That fresh start, along with the family tree assignment given to her little brother, prompts Leah to once again wonder if her donor had any more children. Thanks to an online match system - which she keeps secret from her mom - Leah finds other kids who were fathered by Donor 730. She quickly bonds with a girl her age named Samantha. She is comforted and contented by meeting her half-siblings. She doesn't search for them in an effort to upset her mother, but rather to find what she feels is a missing piece of herself, her history.

I really liked the fact that Leah loved and valued her mother, her stepfather, and her half-brother. She was grateful for her family and never pushed them away. She was frustrated and confused at times, but she was never mean nor difficult on purpose. Instead of having a rebellion or acting out, she truly had a search, something she wanted and needed to do for herself. When she bends the rules, and again when secrets are revealed, she apologizes and she tells the truth.

Sheinmel's young characters sound and act their age. Dialogue between them rings true, as do Leah's thoughts. Each of Leah's new friends - Avery, Brenna and Callie, and, later, her half-sister Samantha - has her own personality and family. Even Avery's college-bound brother Chase factors into the story, as Leah watches him interact with his sister, his father, and his girlfriend, Lizzie. I really enjoyed Leah's stream-of-consciousness narration. She felt so real, so honest. I was utterly delighted by her younger brother. Carefree five-year-old Charlie says the sweetest, smartest things, a combination of intelligence and imagination.

My So-Called Family by Courtney Sheinmel gets my recommendation - and my appreciation. This is a great story about family values and valuing your family. This notable debut has earned a spot on my Best Books of 2008 list.

Was this review helpful to you? 
 

User reviews

Average user rating from: 3 user(s)

Already have an account? or Create an account
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0  (3)
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A  (0)
I enjoyed Courtney Sheinmel's My So-Called Family quite a bit, but it wasn't exactly what I expected. The description in the front jacket reads:

“Leah Hoffman-Ross just moved to New York and she wants her new friends to think she's a typical thirteen-year-old. But Leah has a secret: She doesn't have a father; she has a donor. Before Leah was born, her mother went to Lyon's Reproductive Services and picked Donor 730. Now Leah has a stepfather and a little brother, and her mom thinks that they should be all the family Leah needs.

“Despite her attempts to fit in and be normal, Leah can't help but feel like something is missing. When she finds a link to the Lyon's Sibling Registry, Leah has to see if she has any half siblings. And when she discovers that one of the other kids from Donor 730 is a girl her age, Leah will do anything to meet her- even if she has to hide it from everybody else.

“Debut author Courtney Sheinmel puts a contemporary spin on a timeless question in this heartfelt novel about what makes a family.”

Upon reading this, I made the assumption that this book was solely the story of Leah's journey to find out more about her half siblings and possibly search for the father she has never known. Instead, it focuses on her new friendships upon moving, her relationship with her brother Charlie and somewhat on her mother's writing career. We get to see her friend Avery's family struggle with her older brother's college decision and acceptance in addition to following Leah through her journey of finding her half siblings. When I first started writing this review, I felt that the book wandered a bit too much and didn't focus enough on what was promised in the description However, as I'm sitting here analyzing it a bit more I'm thinking about the last line “Courtney Sheinmel puts a contemporary spin on a timeless question in this heartfelt novel about what makes a family.” Throughout the course of the book, we are introduced to Leah's relationship with her mother, stepfather, and half-brother. We also follow her as she makes new friends in New York. And lastly, we find out whether or not she finds any half-siblings.

Sheinmel makes it very clear that it is sharing the same blood and genes do not necessary make you a family. Family can be your closest friends or your neighbors, as well as those you are related to. Sheinmel's book illustrates that well. Leah's family extends beyond those she is immediately related to and those she has grown up around. Upon writing this review, I like this book even more than when I finished it. I recommend it to readers around 10 or so and up (but I would suggest parents be available as their children read this, since some of the subject matter will likely spark questions from their young reader).

In addition I also recommend another of Sheinmel's books, Positively, a book about a girl named Emmy who is HIV positive and has to move in with her father and step-mother after her mother passes away from the same disease.

Overall I was very happy that I picked up this book and will likely read more books by this author.

Happy Reading!
-Melly
www.beautyandthearmageddon.blogspot.com
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Melanie Reviewed by Melanie May 12, 2012
Top 500 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (3)

“My So-Called Family” by Courtney Sheinmel

I enjoyed Courtney Sheinmel's My So-Called Family quite a bit, but it wasn't exactly what I expected. The description in the front jacket reads:

“Leah Hoffman-Ross just moved to New York and she wants her new friends to think she's a typical thirteen-year-old. But Leah has a secret: She doesn't have a father; she has a donor. Before Leah was born, her mother went to Lyon's Reproductive Services and picked Donor 730. Now Leah has a stepfather and a little brother, and her mom thinks that they should be all the family Leah needs.

“Despite her attempts to fit in and be normal, Leah can't help but feel like something is missing. When she finds a link to the Lyon's Sibling Registry, Leah has to see if she has any half siblings. And when she discovers that one of the other kids from Donor 730 is a girl her age, Leah will do anything to meet her- even if she has to hide it from everybody else.

“Debut author Courtney Sheinmel puts a contemporary spin on a timeless question in this heartfelt novel about what makes a family.”

Upon reading this, I made the assumption that this book was solely the story of Leah's journey to find out more about her half siblings and possibly search for the father she has never known. Instead, it focuses on her new friendships upon moving, her relationship with her brother Charlie and somewhat on her mother's writing career. We get to see her friend Avery's family struggle with her older brother's college decision and acceptance in addition to following Leah through her journey of finding her half siblings. When I first started writing this review, I felt that the book wandered a bit too much and didn't focus enough on what was promised in the description However, as I'm sitting here analyzing it a bit more I'm thinking about the last line “Courtney Sheinmel puts a contemporary spin on a timeless question in this heartfelt novel about what makes a family.” Throughout the course of the book, we are introduced to Leah's relationship with her mother, stepfather, and half-brother. We also follow her as she makes new friends in New York. And lastly, we find out whether or not she finds any half-siblings.

Sheinmel makes it very clear that it is sharing the same blood and genes do not necessary make you a family. Family can be your closest friends or your neighbors, as well as those you are related to. Sheinmel's book illustrates that well. Leah's family extends beyond those she is immediately related to and those she has grown up around. Upon writing this review, I like this book even more than when I finished it. I recommend it to readers around 10 or so and up (but I would suggest parents be available as their children read this, since some of the subject matter will likely spark questions from their young reader).

In addition I also recommend another of Sheinmel's books, Positively, a book about a girl named Emmy who is HIV positive and has to move in with her father and step-mother after her mother passes away from the same disease.

Overall I was very happy that I picked up this book and will likely read more books by this author.

Happy Reading!
-Melly
www.beautyandthearmageddon.blogspot.com

Was this review helpful to you? 
Reader reviewed by Hillary

Leah Hoffman Ross may seem like a normal kid, but she has a secret. She doesn't actually have a father. She has a donor. Before Leah's mother met Simon, she went to Lyon's Reproductive Services and picked donor 730. But now Leah has a stepfather and a younger brother and her mother thinks that that should be good enough. But Leah wants to know more. Then she finds the link to Lyon's Sibling Registry and meets Samantha, her half sister. Leah's determined to meet her, even if she has to hide it from her family.

I thought that this was a nice book. It wasn't outstanding or life changing, but it was entertaining and definitely not something that I regret reading. The writing was pretty good, especially for a first time author and the story was very different. I'd recommend it to anyone between the ages of 9 and 13 or to anyone who doesn't mind reading about younger characters. (Which really isn't my thing, but I think the younger me would've loved it.)
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0
a reader Reviewed by a reader November 26, 2008
#1 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (20052)

Pretty Good MG Book

Reader reviewed by Hillary

Leah Hoffman Ross may seem like a normal kid, but she has a secret. She doesn't actually have a father. She has a donor. Before Leah's mother met Simon, she went to Lyon's Reproductive Services and picked donor 730. But now Leah has a stepfather and a younger brother and her mother thinks that that should be good enough. But Leah wants to know more. Then she finds the link to Lyon's Sibling Registry and meets Samantha, her half sister. Leah's determined to meet her, even if she has to hide it from her family.

I thought that this was a nice book. It wasn't outstanding or life changing, but it was entertaining and definitely not something that I regret reading. The writing was pretty good, especially for a first time author and the story was very different. I'd recommend it to anyone between the ages of 9 and 13 or to anyone who doesn't mind reading about younger characters. (Which really isn't my thing, but I think the younger me would've loved it.)

Was this review helpful to you? 
Reader reviewed by Bookluver-Carol

Leah Hoffman-Ross just moved to New York and she wants her new friends to think she's a typical thirteen-year-old. But Leah has a secret: She doesn't have a father; she has a donor. Before Leah was born, her mother went to Lyon's Reproductive Services and picked Donor 730. Now Leah has a stepfather and a little brother, and her mom thinks that they should be all the family Leah needs.

Despite her attempts to fit in and be normal, Leah can't help but feel like something is missing. When she finds the link to the Lyon's Sibling Registry, Leah has to see if she has any half siblings. And when she discovers that one of the other kids from Donor 730 is a girl her age, Leah will do anything to meet her -- even if she has to hide it from everybody else.

Leah was a character that any tween girl can relate to. After moving, she feels as if she won't meet new friends or won't be accepted by anyone (which is how I felt after I moved here, a couple of years ago), and it made her a very realistic character. She wasn't annoying and grew as a character. She was three-dimensional.

Charlie (Leah's little bro) was just so cute. Whenever he appeared in a scene, he sort of lightened it up.

The plot was very original. There aren't a lot of books that deal with a girl finding her half-siblings from her donor. The book was heart-warming and it keeps you reading. It moved at a normal pace (not too fast but not to slow either) and it really allowed the story to flow.

One of the questions that the book raised is what makes a family? It's not just blood relatives, but it can also be people who make you feel loved and care about you.

Courtney Scheinmel wrote a wonderful debut and is just a great writer. She wrote some fully developed characters, and made them all seem real. She really made the characters grow and just made this novel so much more interesting.

I definitely recommend this book, especially to reluctant tween readers.
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0
a reader Reviewed by a reader November 19, 2008
#1 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (20052)

Great book about having a donor

Reader reviewed by Bookluver-Carol

Leah Hoffman-Ross just moved to New York and she wants her new friends to think she's a typical thirteen-year-old. But Leah has a secret: She doesn't have a father; she has a donor. Before Leah was born, her mother went to Lyon's Reproductive Services and picked Donor 730. Now Leah has a stepfather and a little brother, and her mom thinks that they should be all the family Leah needs.

Despite her attempts to fit in and be normal, Leah can't help but feel like something is missing. When she finds the link to the Lyon's Sibling Registry, Leah has to see if she has any half siblings. And when she discovers that one of the other kids from Donor 730 is a girl her age, Leah will do anything to meet her -- even if she has to hide it from everybody else.

Leah was a character that any tween girl can relate to. After moving, she feels as if she won't meet new friends or won't be accepted by anyone (which is how I felt after I moved here, a couple of years ago), and it made her a very realistic character. She wasn't annoying and grew as a character. She was three-dimensional.

Charlie (Leah's little bro) was just so cute. Whenever he appeared in a scene, he sort of lightened it up.

The plot was very original. There aren't a lot of books that deal with a girl finding her half-siblings from her donor. The book was heart-warming and it keeps you reading. It moved at a normal pace (not too fast but not to slow either) and it really allowed the story to flow.

One of the questions that the book raised is what makes a family? It's not just blood relatives, but it can also be people who make you feel loved and care about you.

Courtney Scheinmel wrote a wonderful debut and is just a great writer. She wrote some fully developed characters, and made them all seem real. She really made the characters grow and just made this novel so much more interesting.

I definitely recommend this book, especially to reluctant tween readers.

Was this review helpful to you? 
 
Powered by JReviews

LATEST YABC BLOG POSTS - BLOG TOURS, ANNOUNCEMENTS, AND GIVEAWAYS

View more blog entries

Latest Book Listings Added

From Alison Cherry, author of Red, a novel PW declares “sparkles with wit,” comes a terrific new book about two...
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
A bright, poignant, and deeply funny autobiographical account of coming of age as an amputee cancer survivor, from Josh Sundquist:...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
A TREMBLING EARTH The flames of civil war sweep across the Shima Imperium. With their plans to renew the Kazumitsu...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Phantom's Dance Book Review
Category: Young Adult Indie
Christine Dadey’s family uprooted their lives and moved to Houston for her to attend the prestigious Rousseau Academy of Dance....
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
A streetwise girl trains to take on a gang of drug dealers and avenge her best friend’s death in this...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
the cure for dreaming.jpg
Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in...
 
3.8 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
unmade.jpg
Powerful love comes with a price. Who will be the sacrifice? Kami has lost the boy she loves, is tied...
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Thrust into a world of men, can a timid girl find bravery as the first female Death? Thirteen-year-old Suzie Sarnio...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Young Adult Indie
The stress is getting to fifteen-year-old Jess. Her mum’s officially lost it, going from yummy mummy to seriously weird almost...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Young Adult Indie
“Powerful. Clever. A solid ... choice for both girls and boys.” —Publishers Weekly Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Whispering Skull.jpg
Category: Kids Fiction
In the six months since Anthony, Lucy, and George survived a night in the most haunted house in England, Lockwood...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Screaming Staircase.jpg
Category: Kids Fiction
A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city,...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
A Sudden Light.jpg
In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
My Cousins Keeper.jpg
Category: Kids Fiction
When the odd new kid at school turns out to be his cousin, Kieran feels embarrassed and resentful. But how...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Number 7.jpg
It all starts with a mysterious phone call from Louisa's decorative antique phone. And that wouldn't be so strange, except...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Gollywood, Here I Come! | Children's Book About Celebrities
Category: Kids Indie
The Tale of a Young Turkey’s Rise to Cinematic Stardom. Who doesn’t fantasize about becoming a big movie star, living...
 
0.0
 
5.0 (1)
Category: Young Adult Indie
Combining the survival instincts made famous in THE HUNGER GAMES with the intensity of THE BOOK THIEF, LAST STOP KLINDENSPIEL...
 
0.0
 
4.8 (1)
With inspiration from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, this breathless conclusion to the Madman's Daughter trilogy—perfect for fans of Libba Bray—explores the...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
From Allison van Diepen, author of Snitch and Street Pharm, comes a sexy, dangerous novel about...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Game of Thrones meets the Grimm's fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty's daughter, a warrior...
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)