Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Family Tree: The Long Way Home Audio

Family Tree: The Long Way Home Audio

Ann M. Martin
For ages 9 to 12
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Kim Mai Guest
Listening Library , 2013   ISBN: 978-0804122344

Julie loves being a twin and wants to spend all her time with her sister, Dana. She wants to share her room with Dana, play with her, and wear the same outfits so that they are “samesies.” Dana, on the other hand, wishes she had more space, more independence. On the twins’ seventh birthday Dana asks her parents if she can have her own room. Julie is upset that Dana does not want to be with her, but Dana feels stifled by her sister and is glad when her parents finally give her a space to call her own.

   The twins and their brother Peter have a good life. They live in a lovely home, they go to private schools, and they get to go out to nice restaurants, shows, and other events with their parents. The children’s father, Zander, is a very successful author and he loves giving his family treats. He and Dana are particularly close and Dana is always his staunch supporter. She even sides with her father when her mother is criticizing Zander for drinking too much. He is not a habitual heavy drinker, but on occasion he goes too far and when he comes home he slurs his words and is unsteady.

   When Dana is only nine years old she starts working on illustrations for a book her father wrote. She is a gifted artist and she is thrilled when she gets her own contract for the work. She even gets paid for the pen and ink “spots” that she creates. A year later the book is ready and the whole family attends the book signing party at the Plaza Hotel. Both Dana and her father will be signing books and Dana is very excited. Julie, once again, feels left out of things. Her twin is eager to have adventures and to spread her wings, which means that Julie, who likes a quiet life, is left behind.

   In the winter of the following year Dana, Julie and their parents go to another party for Zander’s book, which has become a best seller. At first the party goes well, but Zander drinks heavily all evening long and when it is time to go home he is extremely drunk. On the ferry ride home his hat it picked up by the wind and when he tries to catch it, he falls overboard.

   After Zander’s death, everything changes. Abby, his widow, finds out that her husband had not managed their finances well and she is forced to sell their home and move her family into a rented apartment. She has to work and Julie and Dana need to take care of Peter and manage the household as best they can. Suddenly a life that had been so rosy is full of uncertainty and worry.

   In this second Family Tree title we find out what happened to Abby, whom we met in the first title in the series. Abby’s story is told through the eyes of her daughter, Dana, a girl who knows what she wants, and who is willing to do just about anything to get what she wants. It never occurs to Dana to think about how her choices might affect others.