Sunday, September 20, 2015

Spirit level

Spirit level
by Sarah N. Harvey
Language: English
Victoria, British Columbia : Orca Book Publishers, 2016.
233 pages ; 21 cm.
ISBN: 9781459808164 ; 1459808169
Summary: An only child, Harriet (also known as Harry), has also never had a dad. Born to a “single mother by choice,” she was donor-conceived because her mother always wanted a child but did not want a relationship. This Harriet has always known. Never having been even slightly curious to find out if she had any donor siblings or even to try to contact her donor father, Harriet, now in high school, comes across a magazine article one day about a guy who sired 500 kids through sperm donation. It suddenly occurs to Harriet that she could be one of his kids. Having known about the Donor Sibling Registry, a service that matches donors, offspring, and siblings, since “before she could read” (because her mother purchased a lifetime membership when Harriet was young), Harriet decides to finally take a look to see if she has any half-siblings. She registers her information on the DSR and when she begins to receive emails from some of her half-siblings, she is excited to meet them, especially fifteen-year-old Lucy who also lives in Seattle and who, being the child of two moms, has also always known she was donor-conceived. One other half-sibling ends up in the picture though and that is eighteen-year-old Meredith who has come all the way to Seattle from Missoula, Montana in search of her sperm donor father. She has a hunch he is still in the city in which he donated sperm and she is hell-bent on finding him and she wants Lucy and Harriet to experience the quest with her. But Lucy and Harriet are not ready to find (or meet) their sperm donor father, instead content with having just met each other. Tensions begin to build between Harriet and Meredith, especially when Meredith’s best friend Alex, who has left Montana to accompany Meredith on her journey, starts to like Harriet and the two develop a relationship outside of the one each has with Meredith. When Meredith, despite being Harriet’s “sister” catches wind of Harriet's budding relationship with her best friend Alex, she takes out her jealousy on Harriet physically, landing Harriet severely hurt. It turns out that Meredith is deeply troubled, mostly because of the fact that, unlike Harriet and Lucy who have always known, she did not find out that she was donor-conceived until she was twelve years old. Feeling betrayed and lied to by her parents, she is profoundly hurt and acutely angry and now feels betrayed again by her half-sister Harriet. Is it better to have always known, like Harriet and Lucy have? Is it not painful to find out later in life that you are donor-conceived and that the father you always thought was your father was not your father at all? These are just some of the issues explored in this novel. There is no sex, violence, or foul language used in the book and it is recommended for ages twelve and up.
Subject headings:

  • Children of sperm donors -- Juvenile fiction 
  • Seattle (Wash.) -- Juvenile fiction 
  • Sisters -- Juvenile fiction

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