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Lydia, Robyn and Dean are three completely different people with only one thing in common. According to an online donor registry, they were all fathered by the same sperm donor. Some have known of their heritage for a while, others are just finding out, but none of them knew the other two existed. Until now. At the same time, their donor father's life is slipping away. His last wish is to know of the impact his 'noble' act may have had, the legacy it is leaving on the world. And in this information age it's not that hard to trace your roots, unless, that is, you're searching for people who don't want to be found.
I got the feeling that Jewell wasn't expecting her readers to see themselves reflected in Lydia, Robyn or Dean. The characters are all slightly extreme, much more than the average person on the street, and yet there was something about each of them that endeared them to me, even Dean who, to be quite honest, I would never be friends with in real life.
The story rotates view point with every chapter, with the siblings getting most of the talk time but auxiliary characters also getting their odd moment in the spotlight. I thought this worked extremely well, and the characters were sufficiently different that they never merged into one, but stood out distinctly. I especially liked the different characters' reactions to the same event, for example when Dean first saw Lydia's home and realised how completely different the two worlds they inhabited were.
I'd read some of Jewell's other books, and always found them perfectly alright, if not that special. I was expecting this one to be similar, so was completely blown away. It is a winning read from page 1 to page 390, that has you rooting for the characters and willing them into each others' lives...before it is too late. Though in theory the subject matter could be serious - the impact of finding out you're not who you think you are, or that you're not as unique as you might like to think, for example - the book manages to turn this around, and while it doesn't make light of the situation, it is still a light enough read. I honestly couldn't tell what was coming next, and broke my own rule of treating books well, breaking the spine so I could keep reading it at the gym rather than putting it down for the duration of my workout.
This is such a true to life tale. I loved the hysteria of Robyn when she thought she had broken the law; the pragmatism of Lydia; the hopelessness that Dean feels with his lot in life. It felt more like talking to a friend than reading a magazine's 'Real Life' section, as it's neither shocking nor too outrageous, and I think the slightly open end adds to this, as just as in the real world things continue to grow and progress rather than terminating neatly. As one part of the story ends, the opportunities for the trio are just beginning.
The one character with whom I was less taken was Bendicks. Though I understood what he brought to the story for the most part, showing Lydia another side of herself, I thought he was over developed as a minor character but under developed as a full on supporting one. He was there enough for me to expect more to happen with him, though I was pleased on Lydia's behalf with what occured at the end.
For the most part I enjoyed the pace of this book. There were times when I wanted things to hurry along, but the characters mirrored my impatience which of course helped. You could say it sped up too much in parts, but I would disagree. I think these sorts of discoveries are the kind that would pick up momentum as they go, and for it to be steadily paced throughout would be unrealistic.
This is a book I wouldn't hesitate to recommend. It is funny and dry and a little heart warming, without being sappy. It is a chunky story but kept me hooked throughout, and I'd love to see a 5 years later follow up with the same characters. Knowing Jewell's style, maybe that's not totally out of the question.
'The Making Of Us' was published in the UK in May 2011. The current version is the large (airport style) paperback with an rrp of £12.99 but Amazon is selling it new for half that, and also has an even cheaper Kindle version available.
This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk