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Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Other F-Word, written by Natasha Friend. Farrar Straus Giroux, Raincoast. 2017. $24.99 ages 12 and up

"Holding a cat funeral was weird enough, but holding a cat funeral when the person who loved the cat was also dead was particularly weird. Yvette was in the ground. Yvette, who had been warm and vital this morning, who had been able to lick herself and purr and stretch in the sun, was now gone forever. Just like Pam was gone forever. It made Hollis's stomach clench, thinking about it."

Hollis Darby-Barnes lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, while Milo Robinson-Clark's home is Brooklyn, New York. They do, however, have something in common. Both are the children of lesbian parents and, it turns out, they share the same sperm donor. Both are angry with their mothers. As teens are wont to be, they feel they have good reason.

Milo suffers from severe allergies, and he is hoping he can find his biological father for some genetic testing. He has no way of knowing how to begin the search. He asks a very resistant Hollis for her help. She agrees. The search moves forward, and the two make contact with DPP, the Donor Progeny Project. It is a database they can access for information about their sperm donor. Through that contact they are informed that, to date, there have been five births recorded. It sets them on a new course:

"Dear Donor Siblings
(and/or Donor Siblings' Parents),

We're not sure exactly what to say so we're just
going to have to throw this out there and see what
happens. Our names are Milo (age 15) and Hollis
(age 14). We met for the first time 7 years ago when
our mothers discovered we were half siblings both
conceived using donor sperm from the Twin Cities
Cryolab in Minneapolis. Our donor was # 9677. We
are hoping to make contact with our other half
siblings. We welcome anything you would like to
share with us. Ummm ... not sure what else to
write ... Post back if you get this. Thanks!

                                         - Milo and Hollis"

They find two others, and join forces with them to find their biological father. It is quite the adventure. Their story is told from alternating perspectives - from Hollis to Milo and back. As the four learn more about each other, they discover clear similarities. Yes, they do find their father. What they do about it, I will leave for you to discover.

Theirs is a story about family, love, friendship, while also ably infused with humor and emotion.

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