The Lotterys, a family very much of our century, star in this story about the true meaning of acceptance and belonging.
A riotously, exuberantly loving clan of four parents and seven home-schooled children (all named for trees), plus assorted pets, inhabit a sprawling house in an urban Toronto neighborhood. Having won the lottery, the parents—composed of two same-sex couples, one male and one female—retired and started a family through birth and adoption. Precocious Sumac, a biracial Filipina-German 9-year-old, is the sensitive, observant sibling and hence the most deeply affected when their prickly, conservative Scottish grandfather, suffering from dementia, is transported against his will from the Yukon wilderness into their cheerful chaos, upsetting the balance of family life. Grumps, as he is christened by the children, struggles to understand 4-year-old Brian's (formerly Briar) fluid gender identity, not to mention the family's greener-than-thou lifestyle. With a large cast of characters, cultural expression (the parents alone are of Scottish, Indian, Mohawk, and Jamaican descent) is primarily conveyed via food and celebrations. Most refreshing is that the Lotterys’ many differences, from 10-year-old Aspen's challenges to toddler Oak's developmental delays, are simply part of their own normal. Full of clever names and wordplay, this engaging tale is moving without veering into sentimentality.
For all the Lotterys’ apparent eccentricity, the novel delves into universal themes of family relationships that will resonate with readers from all backgrounds. (Fiction. 8-12)