AN ACCIDENTAL FAMILY — A REVIEW

It was a time of escape, of trying out new experiences, and a time for love. But for Lisa Fay, life in San Francisco in the mid-sixties became more than she could manage. She fell in with the wrong crowd, got caught up in the frenzy rather than the peace…and one day, life happened to her in ways she hadn’t expected.

Giving birth to her son one day in the park was only the beginning of her out-of-control life, and when he was three-years-old, this child who also dashed through life everyday, wreaking havoc and earning the name “Wrecker,” was lost to her when she was arrested for a number of charges. She was off to prison for thirty years (fifteen for good behavior), and Wrecker was off to the foster care system.

Enter Len, an accidental relative, husband to Lisa’s sister Meg. By age three, Wrecker had blown out of every placement and there was nothing left for him except group homes. Or this one relative.

Len and Meg, his brain damaged wife, live in Humboldt County in Northern California. They are used to a simple life, free of chaos and the complexities of the rest of the world. What can an angry, frightened, and wrecking-ball of a child bring to this world, and how will he change them? How will the neighboring communal friends step in to offer just the right mix of support, comfort, and consistency that will be just what this child needs?

Wrecker: A Novel is a story that spans more than two decades, showing a glimpse of how the gentle life into which this child has stumbled offers that “soft place to land.” Yes, there are challenges along the way. And no apparent support from the system. We don’t see any social workers checking on this child after placement, which probably was typical of the times. The rather loosely arranged placement and then later, the adoption, seem all too casual.

Meanwhile, as we learn bits and pieces of Wrecker’s life, we also glimpse Lisa Fay’s life inside prison from time to time. In the end, life seems to come full circle in a satisfying way. A loving story full of the miraculous possibilities of life. Four stars.

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