When 17-year-old Calliope meets her new neighbor Max, their connection is instantaneous, but the revelation of her sperm donor’s identity changes everything. Calliope Silversmith has always had just two friends in her small Pennsylvania town, Ginger and Noah, and she's fine with that. She's never wanted anything more than her best friends, her moms, their house in the woods, and their family-run yoga studio--except maybe knowing who her sperm donor is. Her curiosity has been building for years, and she can finally find out this summer when she turns eighteen. Then Max and his family move into the house across the woods from Calliope, and she immediately feels a special connection with her new neighbor, one that feels different than just friendship. The stability of her longtime trio wavers over the next few weeks as she and Max start to spend more time together. But when Calliope makes contact with her sperm donor she learns a surprising truth: her donor is Max's father. How is this even possible? As she and Max struggle to redefine their friendship now that they know they’re half-siblings, Calliope realizes she has much to gain by recognizing and accepting that family is both the one she has been born into, and the one she chooses to make. Perfect for readers looking for stories about family dynamics and fans of The Other F-Word by Natasha Friend.
The People We ChooseFeatured
During the summer before her birthday, she meets a new boy, Max, whose family moves into the town's haunted house. As they get to know each other, they are unable to deny their connection. Even though Calliope said she'd never date in high school, Max has her breaking her rule, and they are soon in love. Before she knows it, she is 18 and she gets to make the decision about whether she will reach out to her donor.
Ultimately, she decides to reach out, and she gets a response - as mentioned in the synopsis, it turns out her donor is Max's father. Now, Calliope is second guessing herself and her decision as she comes to terms with what it all means.
What I loved: This was a really thought-provoking scenario, and the ultimate theme of the book becomes how family is defined and formed. There's not a simple answer, and the discussion also includes people close to us, such as friends. Calliope has had two BFFs since basically infancy, and they also are undergoing turmoil. Everything is changing, and Calliope is trying to find her way. One of my favorite aspects of the book was Calliope's mothers, who are excellent parents and their relationship with each other and their daughter shines throughout the story.
What left me wanting more: I wanted the book to go even deeper into the emotions and background of decisions made. There's a lot of complexity, but it wasn't as immersive as I wanted. Of course, it would be tough to have a romance that we could both buy into and then also deal with in the second half of the book, but this also made it tougher to take a deep dive into Calliope and Max's relationship and the fallout, so some mixed feelings. I think it could have been helpful to have other perspectives to really understand the multifaceted aspects of the way things unfold.
Final verdict: A thought-provoking read, THE PEOPLE WE CHOOSE is a YA contemporary that discusses family and the ways it can be defined and redefined. Would recommend for fans of 806.