THE LIES THAT BIND by Edward DeAngelo


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An affecting debut about a father’s attempts to hold on to his son when he learns he’s not the biological parent.

DeAngelo handles a potentially melodramatic subject with perfect emotional pitch, offering a perceptive tale about parents who may no longer love each other but still care desperately for their child. Peter Morrison, the father and narrator, is one of those well-intentioned men who think that what’s good for them is good for those they love. A successful Boston businessman, he falls hard for struggling artist Joan, marries her, and buys her his dream house after she becomes pregnant. But Joan is increasingly unhappy, so much so that when their son Sam is five, she asks for a divorce. Peter, who dearly loves his wife and son, reluctantly agrees but insists that Joan keep the house and provides generous alimony so she doesn’t have to work. As the years pass, observing how unalike he and Sam are in looks as well as temperament, Peter begins to worry that he may not be the child’s real father. The thought nags him so obsessively that when Sam is 13, he arranges blood tests for the both of them. The results indicate that indeed he is not the father—and Peter’s life begins to unravel. Furious about what Peter has done, Joan asks for a restraining order to prevent him from seeing Sam. In desperation, he files a suit claiming that he has been, and still is, the boy’s father in everything but genetic material. The court decides otherwise, but Peter doesn’t give up easily and neither does Sam. Even Joan (less well-drawn than her husband and child) begins to rethink matters when an unexpected crisis calls for new approaches.

Resonating with intelligence, insight, and compassion for fathers and sons determined to connect whatever the cost: a sensitive portrait of conflict in which there are no clear-cut victories, only painful adjudications.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-688-17493-0
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2000