Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

20 May 2014, 0:17 a.m.

My Real Children

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2014 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

A few months ago I got to read an advance copy of My Real Children, the new book by Jo Walton. It goes on sale today in North America, and if your reading tastes mirror mine, get it.

My Real Children pulls you along; it's a compulsively readable book. I adored its tempo and thoroughly wanted to know what protagonist Patricia would do next and what would happen to her. (This is quite a feat given the narrative structure of the book, as you'll see if you try it out.) Keep some tissues ready; I wept with joy and grief, prayed for someone's health, and shivered with fear. Throughout, Patricia's steadfast strength inspired me.

I feel as though I've gotten to read another book about Taveth from Jo Walton's Lifelode, in a way, in how thoroughly I see that Patricia's housekeeping and parenting and teaching and writing and peace work are all of a piece -- all her work is love made visible. Walton pays attention to the concrete domestic details of real people's lives. There's a moment where Patricia and her partner have to buy another pillow the first time they have an overnight houseguest. This is science fiction written by a host, someone who reflexively practices hospitality both in her social life and in her fiction. (I got to meet Walton in Montreal in April and therefore can say this authoritatively.)

You can read the first two chapters online now. After you've read it, you might be in the mood to read or reread Bury the Chains by Adam Hochschild, or Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's A Midwife's Tale.