Baby of the family A novel

Maura Roosevelt

Book - 2019

The Whitbys: a dynasty akin to the Astors, once enormously wealthy real-estate magnates who were considered "the landlords of New York." There was a time when the death of a Whitby would have made national news, but when the family patriarch, Roger, dies, he is alone. Word of his death travels from the longtime family lawyer to his clan of children (from four separate marriages) and the news isn't good. Roger has left everything to his twenty-one-year-old son Nick, a Whitby only i...n name, including the houses currently occupied by Shelley and Brooke--two of Roger's daughters from different marriages. And Nick is nowhere to be found. Brooke, the oldest of the children, who is unexpectedly pregnant, leads the search for Nick, hoping to convince him to let her keep her Boston home and her fragile composure. Shelley hasn't told anyone she's dropped out of college just months before graduating, and is living in her childhood apartment while working as an amanuensis for a blind writer named Anandaroop Gupta, with whom she develops a rather complicated relationship. And when Nick, on the run from the law after a misguided and dramatic act of political activism, finally shows up at Shelley's New York home, worlds officially collide as Nick and Mr. Gupta's daughter fall in love. Soon, all three siblings are faced with the question they have been running from their whole lives: What do they want their future to look like, if they can finally escape their past? Weaving together multiple perspectives to create a portrait of an American family, and an American dream gone awry, Baby of the Family is a book about family secrets--how they define us, bind us together, and threaten to blow us (and more) apart--as well as an amusing and heartwarming look at the various ways in which a family can be created.

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Subjects
Genres
Domestic fiction
Published
New York, New York : Dutton [2019]
Language
English
Physical Description
450 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
ISBN
9781524743178
1524743178
Main Author
Maura Roosevelt (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Roger Whitby Jr. of "the landlords of New York" Whitbys has died, leaving behind children from four separate marriages and a depleted fortune that he bequeaths in full to his 20-year-old adopted son, Nick. Among the remaining assets are several houses, including one in Boston occupied by daughter Brooke and another in New York occupied by daughter Shelley. All have struggled with their father's disregard as well as the need to live up to expectations that come with being a Whitby. Brooke, unexpectedly pregnant, wants stability and hopes Nick can be convinced to sign over the Boston house to her. One problem: Nick has disappeared. Shelley, meanwhile, has dropped out of college and is on her own since her unhinged mother has been hospitalized again. In need of cash, she accepts a job as an assistant to blind architect Yousef Kamal, a situation that takes an unsettling turn. Then Nick shows up, on the run from authorities, and her house becomes a squat for a group of eco-activists. Roosevelt's debut reveals a sure hand, an eye for detail, and a keen sense of the absurd, and her affection for Brooke, Shelley, and Nick shines through as they fumble their way toward wisdom. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

After the patriarch of the much diminished Whitby family dies, his children from four separate marriages learn that he has left everything to 21-year-old son Nick. Half-sisters Shelley and Brooke live in houses destined for their brother and hope he'll cede his claim, but when they finally meet Nick, they must all consider whether they can let go of the past. A debut from the great-granddaughter of Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Roosevelt's solid debut dissects a privileged family wrestling with the ghost of an imperious patriarch and dwindling fortune. Opening in 2003, the saga revolves primarily around three children of Roger Whitby Jr. Adopted son Nick inherits the patriarch's lucrative properties thanks to his manipulative mother and Whitby's fourth wife, but prefers the life of a left-wing rebel; Brooke, a daughter from Whitby's second marriage and a nurse in Boston, wrestles with her devotion to the woman she loves and the man she thinks she ought to marry and raise a child with; and free-spirited Shelley, daughter from a third marriage, moves to New York and develops a twisted relationship with a blind Egyptian architect, Kamal, after he hires her to help him write a book about urban American WASPs in the early 20th century. Nick moves in with Shelley, setting up a moment between the three siblings that'll begin to undo the havoc Roger Whitby Jr.'s will—and abandonment—created in his children's lives. Roger's three children are not fully formed enough outside of his shadow, and consequently the narrative feels unbalanced on a character level. Roosevelt does a good job handling the twists and turns of an unraveling dynasty, making for a diverting yet frustrating novel. (Mar.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

When a real-estate magnate leaves the remnants of his fortune to an adopted son on the run after a misguided attempt at political activism, his sisters' efforts to find him are complicated by personal struggles and a love affair.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

When a real-estate magnate leaves the remnants of his fortune to an adopted son, who is on the run after a misguided attempt at political activism, his sisters' efforts to find him are complicated by personal struggles and a love affair.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A wry and addictive debut about a modern-day American dynasty and its unexpected upheaval when the patriarch wills his dwindling fortune to his youngest, adopted son'setting off a chain of events that unearths secrets and tests long-held definitions of love and family.   The money is old, the problems are new.   Meet the Whitbys: an American dynasty once inundated with ungodly real estate wealth and now facing a new millennium of unfamiliar obstacles.   There was a time when the death of a Whitby would have made national news, but when the family patriarch, Roger, dies, he is alone. Word of his death travels from the long-suffering family lawyer to Roger's clan of children (from four different marriages), and the outlook isn't good. Roger has left everything to his twenty-one-year-old son Nick, a Whitby only in name'and Nick is nowhere to be found.   Brooke, an older daughter who is both overwhelmingly nostalgic and unexpectedly pregnant, leads the search for Nick, hoping to convince him to let her keep her Boston home. Shelley, the only child from the third marriage, hasn't told anyone that she's dropped out of college just months before graduation and is currently working as an amanuensis for a blind architect, with whom she crosses complicated boundaries. And when Nick, on the run from the law after a misguided act of political activism, finally appears at Shelley's New York home, worlds collide and explode in spectacular fashion. Soon, the three siblings are faced with the question they have been running from their whole lives: What do they want their future to look like, if they can finally escape their past?   Weaving together multiple perspectives to create a portrait of the American dream gone awry, Baby of the Family is a vivid, absorbing debut about family secrets and how they define us, bind us together, and threaten to blow us apart.