This is her final book I am reading. Unlike all the other books, the story line is more central to America, although the protagonist family (if there is such a thing) is unlike any typical American family.
Doyle, an ex-mayor of Boston, adopted two ‘African American’ boys into his family. Soon after, his wife died, leaving him to bring up three sons, one biological and two adopted. He hopes his children will take an interest in politics and makes them go to political speeches. Unfortunately, they do not share his interest. Sullivan, the eldest, takes off to Africa. Thomas, or Tip as he is called, is into ichthyology, the study of fishes. The youngest Teddy, can reproduced all the political speeches by heart, wants to be a catholic priest like his maternal uncle, Uncle Sullivan.
One day, as they are heading home after listening to a political speech in a snowstorm, a woman saves Tip’s live by pushing him away from an approaching car. Tip breaks his ankle and she breaks her hips. There, the family is introduced to Tennessee, Tip’s saviour and her eleven-year-old daughter, Kenya. To their astonishment, Kenya reveals that her mother and she have been watching them ever since she can remember. It has never occurred to Doyle that Tip and Teddy’s mother would appear one day.
With Tennessee in the hospital, the Doyle family has no choice but to bring Kenya home with them. Tip and Teddy have to deal with the anguish of living among the privilege white family while their black biological family lives in poverty a street away. They had blamed their mother for abandonment but she had given them opportunities that Kenya dreams about.
How does the family reconcile? The tender family drama is dealt with sensitivity and warmth.
Americans have adopted many children all over the world and have given them homes generously and without prejudice, something Asians are not known to do. It’s gratifying seeing how Doyle treats the sons equally and carries the same ambition for his sons, blind to their blood ties and skin colours.