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The Real Mother
By Judith Michael

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The Real Mother

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The Real Mother
By Judith Michael
Large Print Edition
Harper Large Print, 2005
An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 0-06-075939-9
Genre: Fiction

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - April 4, 2005

The Real Mother is an interesting offering by the husband and wife team, Judith Barnard and Michael Fain, who write under the name, Judith Michael. This is the story of Sara Elliott, a twenty-seven-year-old harried mother, housewife, and working woman, who drops out of medical school following a family crisis. Elliott became the pseudo-mother of her three younger step-siblings after their mother was confined to a nursing home after a stroke. The father of Elliott's adolescent siblings should have taken over care of the kids, but he took a runner, abandoning the family. Without the benefit of husband, lover, or children of her own, Elliott finds herself saddled with the care of an entire family and all that it entails. It is amazing how she finds the energy and moral strength to handle this monstrous load that she's been saddled with!

Elliott, with a paycheck necessary job, even though she is having to deal with some monumental personal and family issues, finds that she is managing to handle the situation. Things begin to fall apart, however, when Mack, another of Elliott's step-siblings shows up. Mack is a foulmouthed, abusive lout whose actions are as sinister as he is disrespectful and disruptive.

While the focus of the story is Elliott's relationship with her family members, in the background is another melodrama. Elliott is becoming romantically involved with mysterious Reuben Lister, who is trying to build a low-income housing project in Chicago. Lew Corcoran, the story's main villain, is out to see that the project fails. To complicate matters, Mack may be in league with Corcoran and Lister may not be the type of man that Elliott thinks he is. For example, he may not even be single!

Throughout this soap-operaish story, Elliott is uncomplaining and unerringly selfless. The line between being a doormat and a saint is a fine one. I'm sure that most readers will view Elliott as decidedly either one or the other! This is not Michael's best work, but it is still an interesting and diverting read that will resonate with any woman who has had to juggle kids, a job, and the million and one other things that the average woman routinely juggles.


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