By Julie Lawson Timmer
Putnam, 2016, ISBN: 978-0-399-17627, 352 pages, $27
Tragedy almost tears apart Charlotte and her stepdaughter Allie in “Untethered.” As they both grapple with the death of Charlotte’s husband and Allie’s father, they struggle to forge a way forward. But when Morgan, the 10-year-old girl that Allie’s tutoring, shares some of the challenges she’s facing in her adoptive home, Charlotte and Allie unite to help the little girl. The book delves into the darker side of foster care and adoption, including rehoming, drawing on the Rueters article “The Child Exchange: Inside America’s Underground Market for Adopted Children” by Megan Twohey that explores the unregulated practice of adoptive parents sending their children to other families through internet sites. Ultimately, Allie and Charlotte rebuild their relationship through their shared loved for Morgan.
While “Untethered” is fictional, it is evident author Julie Lawson Timmer did her homework, especially around the practice of rehoming. She consulted with several social workers, child attorneys and national child welfare leaders while writing the book and includes a list of those individuals at the end. The book is a little slow to get into, but is overall a decent novel. — Reviewed by Kim Phagan-Hansel