Untethered by Julie Lawson TimmerUntethered by Julie Lawson Timmer

Untethered

byJulie Lawson Timmer

Hardcover | June 7, 2016

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When Char Hawthorn's husband dies unexpectedly, she is left questioning everything she once knew to be true: from the cozy small town life they built together to her relationship with her stepdaughter, who is suddenly not bound to Char in any real way. Untethered explores what bonds truly form a family and how, sometimes, love knows no bounds.

Char Hawthorn, college professor, wife and stepmother to a spirited fifteen-year-old daughter, loves her family and the joyful rhythms of work and parenting. But when her husband dies in a car accident, the “step” in Char’s title suddenly matters a great deal. In the eyes of the law, all rights to daughter Allie belong to Lindy, Allie’s self-absorbed biological mother, who wants to girl to move to her home in California.

While Allie begins to struggle in school and tensions mount between her and Char, Allie’s connection to young Morgan, a ten-year-old-girl she tutors, seems to keep her grounded. But then Morgan, who was adopted out of foster care, suddenly disappears, and Char is left to wonder about a possible future without Allie and what to do about Morgan, a child caught up in a terrible crack in the system.
Julie Lawson Timmer grew up in Ontario and earned a bachelor’s degree from McMaster University before heading south of the border. She has a law degree from Southern Methodist University and works as in-house legal counsel in Michigan. She is the author of Five Days Left and lives in Ann Arbor with her husband and children.
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Title:UntetheredFormat:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 9.25 × 6.38 × 1.04 inPublished:June 7, 2016Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0399176276

ISBN - 13:9780399176272

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Second book of Julie Lawson Timmer also a gold mine What makes a parent? How important is biology? Bradley, Char and 15 year old Allie are a family. But when Bradley dies, complications come up. Char, by all means and purposes, is Allie's mother. She has raised her, fed her, clothed her and most importantly, has mothered and loved her. She cannot imagine life without Allie, but she isn't Allie's biological mother, Lindy is. Lindy, lives on the other side of the country, sees Allie sometimes, but really has very little interest in Allie or being a mother to Allie. After Bradley dies, their lives all alter. Allie starts acting out, hanging out with some friends Char doesn't approve of after dropping most of her other friends, drops the soccer team that she used to love. She turns from a sweet daughter to a stale anger she can't reach. The dynamic has changed now. While Char knows she shouldn't let Allie's behaviour continue, she's afraid to rock the boat. She's afraid if she's too hard on her, she will lose her, while Lindy still makes a show of pretending to want Allie to live with her. As with this author's other novel, there is a second story going on here as well. A 10 year old troubled girl, Morgan, that Allie tutors, has become very close to Allie. And there's something just not right going on with Morgan's family. When there is an event that combines the two, it all explodes and everything spins out of control. For the most part, I found the characters real and their reactions to be real as well, some of her characters just were not likeable people. Char, while I understood what she was going through and her reasons for her reactions, I found her so weak until she put her big girl pants on towards the end. She couldn't seem to handle life in general and had to constantly call her brother or her friend to vent or ask for advice. Everytime something happened it was "reach for the phone" or monopolize lunch conversation with her life story. I wanted to smack some sense into her. There is a definite growth in her character towards the end. While Lindy, for obvious reasons, I never liked and had no respect for and I wanted to just smack her. But she is one of the bad guys so we aren't supposed to like her. Allie, I had mixed feelings about. She just lost her father, which is devastating to a girl but she was acting like such a spoiled brat and was so disrespectful. I understood her reactions, the reasons for her behaviour but I couldn't totally excuse it. Both Allie and Char though seemed to do a total 180, maybe a little quicker than realistically. Morgan's parents? That one is obvious. I have read articles on the issue of rehoming and it just shocks me. My heart broke for poor Morgan and all she had gone through on her 10 years. Loved this book. I would give it a sold 4 1/2. It took me a little while to get into it initially; that was my fault more than the book's fault as it was a busy season however the last 75 per cent I devoured on a lazy New Year's Day and enjoyed every minute of it. It was emotionally packed and this author's writing style has an easy flow; the story was fascinating.
Date published: 2017-01-26

Bookclub Guide

Discussion Questions     1. Ignoring the issue of who has legal rights to Allie and who does not, who do you think Allie should live with: her stepmother, Char, or her biological mother, Lindy? Why? 2. Should Char shoulder some of the blame for Allie’s behavior throughout the book? Why or why not? 3. Allie and Char are both grieving the loss of Bradley. How are they able to help one another throughout this time? How are their mourning processes different? 4. Legally, Char has no parental rights to Allie once Bradley dies. Do you agree with this law? Should stepparents have certain rights to their stepchildren in the event of a spouse’s death? 5. Allie and Morgan have a special bond. Why do you think this is? What do they provide for one another to make their relationship so special? 6. Dave Crew ultimately prioritizes his biological son over his adopted daughter. Is this understandable, or is it reprehensible? 7. “Rehoming” is a difficult, but very real, event that occurs in adoptive families. Do you agree with the Crews’ decision to rehome Morgan? Was Morgan’s violent behavior enough of a reason to do so? 8. One of the issues the Crews face is an inability to afford post-adoption mental-health services for Morgan. Do you believe there was more they could have done? Should the state and federal governments improve the availability of these services? 9. Should Char have reported the Crews to the Michigan authorities? Why or why not? 10. We get a glimpse of how things turned out for Char, Allie, and Morgan. How do you think things turned out for the Crews? 11. There are several different mother-daughter relationships explored throughout the book: Allie and Char; Allie and Lindy; Morgan and Sarah. How are these relationships different? How are they similar? Did you relate to one relationship more than the others?

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Untethered“A complex story about a nontraditional but often familiar family. … Timmer handles the sensitive, emotionally charged nature of her plot with reverence and openness, avoiding harsh judgments. Untethered is a beautiful mosaic of love's many fragments, no matter how shattered.”—Shelf Awareness   “Examines human relationships and the concept of family in a very modern, relatable setting.”—REDBOOK   “Gripping and thoughtful new novel” – Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author of The One and Only   “Captivating characters and a plot that will keep the pages turning through to the climactic end.”—RT Book Reviews   “A thoughtfully written and ultimately uplifting celebration of families that are not bound by blood or by law but by love.”—Kirkus Reviews“Harper Lee famously wrote that you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. In Untethered, Julie Lawson Timmer makes mincemeat of this old chestnut, proving that a modern family can indeed consist of people who find their own way to each other, however circuitously. The pulse of the story is in the journey, and the triumph is in the unexpectedness of the destination. If you’re inclined to gently strong-arm your book club, Timmer’s is a poignant page-turner worth going to the mat for.”—Elisabeth Egan, author of A Window Opens