Untethered by Julie Lawson Timmer
Published: June 7, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Char Hawthorn, college professor, wife and stepmother to a spirited fifteen-year-old daughter, loves her family and the joyful rhythms of work and parenting. But when her husband dies in a car accident, the “step” in Char’s title suddenly matters a great deal. In the eyes of the law, all rights to daughter Allie belong to Lindy, Allie’s self-absorbed biological mother, who wants the girl to move to her home in California.
While Allie begins to struggle in school and tensions mount between her and Char, Allie’s connection to young Morgan, a ten-year-old-girl she tutors, seems to keep her grounded. But then Morgan, who was adopted out of foster care, suddenly disappears, and Char is left to wonder about a possible future without Allie and what to do about Morgan, a child caught up in a terrible crack in the system.
In Untethered we get to know Char who has recently lost her husband and finds herself in limbo when it comes to her relationship with her stepdaughter Allie. You see Char’s husband had full custody of Allie but now that he is dead she doesn’t know her role in Allie’s life. She loves her but has never been the one to disciple her, she was the nice and fun stepmom but now neither Char nor Allie knows how things will play out. Allie’s mom lives in L.A. and is solely focused on her job and rarely has played a role in Allie’s life but comes back to get Allie and take her away from everyone and everything she has ever known. Allie and Char clash not knowing what the other one wants and that causes some misunderstandings that sets off a set of circumstances that neither saw coming.
I really enjoyed the story between Allie and Char it felt very true to life and anyone who has ever had step children could really identify with. The struggles between these two and adjusting to life after the death of the one person who bonded them together were heartbreaking. The only thing I really didn’t enjoy was the second storyline of Morgan, the young girl that Allie tutors. Though her story was touching I didn’t find myself connected or invested in it. I really just wanted more of Char and Allie.
Untethered is a story of finding who you are and where you stand after the death of a loved one. It’s about redefining relationships and making a new way of life. But most importantly it’s all about family and knowing no matter what happens those bonds are way stronger than one person, that love is something that only gets stronger with time.