Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Other F-Word - Natasha Friend

The Other F-Word 
Natasha Friend
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reading Challenges: #NGEW2017

I feel like I repeat this a lot, but my initial interest in this book was due to the cover and the snappy title. What can I say, I like shiny, pretty things. Then I read the blurb, and thought the concept could yield an interesting read. Lucky for me, the story was not only interesting, but quite amusing as well.
I was conceived in a petri dish.
My father is out there.
I have a half brother.
I was sort of emotionally drained from my last read, and that probably made me more receptive to this book, because it made me laugh, and laugh, and laugh. This is a character driven story told from the POVs of Milo, the boy allergic to the world, and Hollis, the girl who is mad at the world. Milo enlists Hollis on his quest to find their sperm-donor dad, and she reluctantly agrees.
“But this is my quest, okay? I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. And I want you to come with me.”
“On your quest.”
“On my quest.”
“You want me to leave the Shire and go face the freaking dragon with you?”
I greatly enjoyed the interactions between Milo and Hollis. Both were extremely bright and total book worms. Their banter was fun and witty. But I would say Hollis was the more compelling MC. At the onset of the story, Hollis came off as a very angry girl, but as the story played on, we learned that there are multiple reasons for this anger. A major source of her anger is due to losing her other mother to cancer when she was seven years old. She is harboring some serious guilt from her last day with Pam, and it was quite heartbreaking when it is revealed. There are other peripheral issues such as her long undiscussed anger with her ex-friend and the "numbing" activities that she is partaking in. It was Hollis' story that gave the book more emotional depth, and I really loved being there with her while she embarked on this healing journey.

I thought many of the secondary characters were fabulous. The four sperm-siblings were a force to be reckoned with when they started group chats/emails. Each sibling was given a distinct personality, but also had a little piece of each other in them.
JJ Rabinowitz, honorary sperm sibling. 
Then there was JJ. At first, I didn't quite understand JJ's role, but as I read on, I grew to love the big goof ball.  He added yet another perspective on this self-identity issue, as he did not know either of his biological parents. But, he was also a wonderful, supportive friend. He was there for Milo and encouraged him, but also served as the voice of reason when necessary (believe it or not). I thought his friendship with Hollis was adorable, and was glad that he was able to help her work through some of her issues.

I appreciated the way Friend incorporated the issues same sex families faced prior to the marriage equality act. It really broke my heart when both Hollis and Leigh related their stories. And, she contrast that with what Milo's moms had, as they were able to legally marry.
“A good and generous guy gave us some seeds so we could grow you!” The story sounded a lot like Jack and the Beanstalk: mysterious man, magic seeds. A fairy tale. 
Overall: a sweet and funny adventure of sperm-donor siblings trying to find their "dad" where they actually end up finding themselves and each other.

**I would like to thank NetGalley and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group for the advanced copy of this book

Do you have any siblings?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. I'd never heard of this book, but it sounds like something I'd really love. I'm intrigued by the juxtaposition of the stories of a couple who could marry and one who couldn't.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. This point of marriage equality is not the crux of the story, but two of the characters are raised by moms, and it's something for people to think about with respect to what defines a family. That was a big take away for me, the concept of family.

  2. Aww this sounds REALLY sweet! I love that it is focused so much on families and siblings and such! And the marriage equality piece is so important too, so I am glad they included that! And I loooove that the siblings help each other get through stuff, too. I have a brother and he and I... are not that close. Which makes me sad. Great review, I am going to have to check this one out!

    1. Awwww, thank you Shannon. I have a sister, who lives geographically close (in the same town), but we are not close as well. I was totally jealous of the bond the "sperm siblings" formed so quickly. I also love quirky characters, and Friend gave us plenty in this book.