First, the facts:
Title: Not My Daughter
Author: Barbara Delinsky
Published by: Doubleday, 2010
The In-Depth Look:
When the review copy for this book arrived, I was surprised. First, because it arrived at our new house on the day we moved in–showing up hours ahead of the moving van, even, and making it the first official piece of mail at our new address–so, that alone was a surprise. But, more … this is a site for knitting book reviews. Why was I getting a novel from Barbara Delinsky?
Not My Daughter tells the story of three teenage girls who stun their New England town by forming a pact to get pregnant at the same time. The girls are all good students, “achievers,” as one mother puts it, which just adds to the shock as the ripples and the news spread.
Making matters worse, Susan, the mother of one of the girls, is the high school principal and was once a teenaged mother herself, which immediately calls her ability as a mother into question, not to mention her standing as a community role model. Her daughter’s father comes to lend his support, and some friends immediately rally to help, while others hold off, willing to let the town decide what to do. Suddenly, not only is her daughter pregnant, but her job is on the line.
So, what does this have to do with knitting books? Well, it turns out that Susan and her friends run a successful yarn company, PC Wool, and each of them have their own specialties–designing new colorways, dyeing the yarn, running their store, and heading the marketing campaign for the catalogs. Not only that, all of the main characters (the pregnant girls, their mothers, and even Susan’s estranged mother) knit. They knit a lot. They gather as friends to sit and knit, they carry socks in their purses, they make baby sweaters, they reach for their knitting when they’re stressed … and, there’s a lot of stressful situations in this book.
I don’t know if Barbara Delinsky knits, but if she doesn’t, she got the compulsive, reach-for-the-needles behavior of die-hard knitters down pat. I don’t know how much her non-knitting readers will get out of, say, the exchange Lily has with her newly-met grandmother about the merits of DPNs, Magic Loop, or two circular needles for socks, but since I am a knitter, it felt perfectly natural to me. And the idea of calling other knitters to come show support to another knitter in distress during the public school board meeting to decide on Susan’s fate as principal? Isn’t that exactly the way the knitting world works?
I enjoyed reading the book and appreciated the look at pact behavior, and the unforeseen effects. None of the girls ever meant for their parents to get into trouble, but that was exactly the point–at 17, no matter how prepared you think you are, you just don’t know enough to think of everything. The story focused on Susan and her daughter Lily, and while it touched on the other families, their involvement felt peripheral, as if they were more interested in how this whole thing affected Susan, than their own families. (Though it seemed like the repercussions were far worse for Susan and Lily than for any of the others.)
There were a couple plot points that I thought were predictable, and that the stories wove together a little too neatly. I was torn at the end because part of me loved how all the loose ends tied up in a neat bow, while part of me kept thinking, “How often does that happen in real life?” But that’s not the point. It was a good book with an interesting story, and darn it, it’s nice to see a “clean” ending to a story. Plus the knitting.