That infamous village that's needed to raise a child comes to fruition when a brilliant researcher creates a communal parenting experiment.
This is another bittersweet story about messed-up families from the talented Wilson (The Family Fang, 2011, etc.) but one in which the author stays a bit more grounded, keeping an atmosphere of emotional authenticity that rings true. Wilson’s muse is Izzy Poole, a just-graduated high schooler with a particular talent for barbecuing meat, who finds herself in dire straits. She’s pregnant with her emotionally disturbed art teacher’s baby and estranged from her father. After the art teacher commits suicide, Izzy is confronted with a very odd proposal from a researcher with an agenda. At the behest of a retail mogul, Dr. Preston Grind is determined to create a model in which 10 children are raised by a commune of parents, with no child knowing who their biological parents are. We quickly learn that the doctor is actually a hot mess, raised by two famous child psychologists who subjected their child to constant and unexpected stress throughout his upbringing. Grind may have inherited their brilliance but he’s also a cutter with borderline PTSD. Torn between the experiment and raising her son, Cap, alone, Izzy decides to go along with Grind’s complex scheme. “She would make it work,” Wilson writes. “Izzy would find tiny ways to make herself essential, to succeed when it seemed so unlikely. Ten years, that’s what she had. She would mine every essential element out of these ten years and she would be transformed.” The second half of the novel checks in on this “Infinite Family Project” every year or two, as Wilson delves into the drama and tensions inherent in this strange aquarium. Relationships begin to splinter, even as Izzy becomes fundamentally reliant on the group. “We’re a family,” Grind says, near the end. “An imperfect one.”
A moving and sincere reflection on what it truly means to become a family.