Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Amelia's Family Ties

Amelia's Family Ties

Marissa Moss
Fiction  Series
For ages 8 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2015   ISBN: 978-1481458627

When Amelia gets a letter from her father she is “almost afraid to open it.” Amelia’s father left their family when Amelia was only a baby, and she has not heard from or seen him since then. She doesn’t even know what he looks like ,and neither does her big sister Cleo. Amelia’s mother refuses to talk about her ex-husband altogether.

Amelia does end up opening the letter and reading it. Her father admits that he has no real excuse for not getting in touch sooner. For many years he lived and worked in Japan. He is now back in the United States and lives in Chicago with his wife and six-month-old baby son. He would really like to reconnect with his daughters and he would like Cleo and Amelia to visit him this summer for a week each. To Amelia’s surprise her mother is willing to let her travel to Chicago on her own, and soon enough she leaves her home in Oregon to see her father for the first time.

When she sees her father at the airport Amelia knows at once who he is because he has Cleo’s nose. Or rather Cleo has his nose. Not surprisingly, things are awkward, and when they get to her father’s apartment the situation only gets worse. His new wife, Clara, is incredibly enthusiastic, too much so, and Amelia does not know how to react to her. Then Amelia is introduced to her little half-brother and for the first time since she left home she feels okay and not lost or adrift.

The next day Amelia, her father, Clara and little George go to the zoo and it is obvious that Clara and her dad are trying hard to make things work. Perhaps too hard. They ask so many questions and all Amelia really wants to ask in return is why her dad left them in the first place.

Amelia and her father then spend a day together and it is “actually kind of fun.” They visit the Navy Pier, ride on a big ferris wheel, and visit a wonderful candy store, and things are starting to look up. The following day they visit the Art Institute. When they get home Amelia finds out that Clara has read her diary and she hits the roof. Suddenly the little bridges that she and her father have started to build between them come crashing down.

Very few families are perfect. In fact many are complicated, and figuring out how to cope with parents who have their own issues, and siblings who are annoying, can be challenging for children. With her usual sensitivity and with wonderful touches of humor, Marissa Moss shares another of her Amelia adventures with us, helping us to see how Amelia struggles and tries to cope when her absent father comes back into her life.