Review: My Real Children

My Real Children
My Real Children by Jo Walton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book #30 for 2016
Old Firehouse Books Summer Bingo Square: An award-winning book

I think I was expecting something a lot more out-there, stylistically. But what I got — the roughly parallel character study of a woman who remembers two realities of her adult life — is certainly nothing to complain about. With my personal and family history, I found much of the content difficult to get through, but I think that speaks well to the quality of Walton’s writing and her ability to bring characters to life. It’s interesting that this story is simultaneously high-concept and muted-concept, which makes it a little weird to process, but it made it easier in my mind to liken it to Time and the Conways.

I can’t decide, though, if there is too much “butterfly effect,” or if part of Walton’s point is that everybody, historically “significant” or not, contributes infinitely to a sort of echo chamber of causality. This would mean that we all have infinite alternate realities, but perhaps Patricia’s confused brain seized on these two realities in particular due to what she perceived as the ultimate maternal choice in her life. It’s kind of sad that it boiled down to one decision forced by one man, but it is an unfortunately accurate reflection of women’s lives in that era. Hell, it’s not all that inaccurate in this era. Like I said earlier, I can relate to much of the story all too well, and I’m not even a mother.

This book is quietly thought-provoking on a number of levels, and it’s an excellent choice for discussion. That final line will have your brain going in circles for quite a while. I’d rate this at 4.5 stars, and I’m rounding down simply because it was too quiet for my tastes.

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