1998 Northwest Booksellers Award nominee (closed nomination)
Few revelations are more disturbing than those that meddle with our conceptions of identity. Not a tale that’s been told before, this novella explores the complex human feelings that have been far outstripped by the pace of reproductive technology. When twenty-year-old Jess discovers that her mother has woven their family history from lies, she begins searching for her sperm donor daddy. In the Sixties, when Jess was born, it was still common practice to recruit sperm donors from among medical students. Jess identifies her father in his class year book and runs away from home to find him as a practicing M.D.
For her part, Jess’s mother, Nellie is forced to re-examine the sorrows she has used to justify her lies—the childhood sweeheart she wished had been Jess’s father, lost to the Vietnam War, and the rape that cut her off from men entirely. For Jess, how people belong to each other is indeed a crucial question. She is pregnant, and the novella opens after she has broken into her father’s summer cottage.
The characters in the accompanying stories have had, like Jess, family ties turn to betrayals and doubt their own ability to make lasting bonds even as they are compelled to try. These people are drawn to families that are already formed though they feel themselves to be double agents traveling on false passports.
By turns impassioned and poetic, these stories place the oldest of human yearnings—for family—in new and vibrant contexts.
KATHRYN TRUEBLOOD co-edited The Before Columbus Foundation Fiction Anthology: Selections from the American Book Awards (Norton,1992); also the prize-winning multicultural anthology Homeground with Linda Stovall (Blue Heron, 1996). Her stories have been published in many literary journals. She teaches in the English department at Western Washington University and resides in the Northwest with her husband and son.