Family Tree Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Family Tree

Dana Clarke is thrilled to become a mother and everyone is surprised that the baby is biracial, prompting a closer look at both side of the family. Hugh and Dana Clarke are having their first child. Their daughter is beautiful, healthy and has features that are obviously not Caucasian. It raises a few eyebrows, but none more so than husband's father. Unfortunately, the assumptions that are made by people who see the new baby mar an otherwise perfect event .Others are sure that she had an affair and will not wait for the results of a paternity test to share gossip. Even when the tests confirm his paternity, the new baby is ostracized by some.
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Dana was the only child of a single mom, long before unwed mothers were common. Born during her mother's college education, she has been raised by her maternal grandmother after her mother died. She has never met her father and never had an overwhelming desire to do so. Her mother was not forthcoming about their relationship.

Her husband's lineage is very clear and presents with no questions, so she begins finding as much information as possible about her own father. At the same time, Hugh's parents, Eaton and Dorothy, are very well-off, active in society and prefer for everything to run smoothly. They are not racist, but are not as welcoming as they could be and spend little time with the baby. In addition, Eaton's father is a best selling author and has the release of a new book scheduled soon that features centuries of his family tree.

After contacting people from her mother's college, she finds her father. He was married with several children and after he was widowed, he became a priest. In addition, Dana looks like she could be a twin to one of his other daughters and he is Caucasian, as is everyone else on his side of the family. He, like many others who see the two of them with their daughter, thinks the baby is adopted.

Just as it looks like this is a mystery that will never be solved, new information comes to light. At an appointment with the pediatrician, both parents and their daughter submit to testing for the sickle cell trait. The results are surprising and although Dana was under suspicion since the moment she gave birth, she is not the carrier. Instead, it is and it is then that rumors of his grandmother's infidelity come to light.

Many years ago, Hugh's maternal grandmother spent summers at their vacation home and her husband only visited periodically. It was rumored that she developed a relationship with an African American man during her trips and did not know who the father was. When she gave birth and her son looked Caucasian, the rumors were laid to rest. However, genetics are not always predictable and the new baby more closely resembled her biological great-grandfather than anyone else.

As the story ends, many questions have been answered and extended family members are taking a more active role in baby's life. Dana and Ross have a stronger marriage and everyone's thoughts about families and genetics have been examined.
Best part of story, including ending: It is interesting to see how a person's conceptions about themselves and their loved ones change when information changes. When information comes up that does not change who you are, how you feel or anything tangible about yourself, it still has the potential to impact your life.

Best scene in story: Dorothy Clarke goes against Eaton's wishes and buys a present for the baby, then visits them and offers to babysit. Women of that age group and financial status have often been raised to allow the husband to make decisions and it was clear that was not something that she did very often. Therefore, it was difficult and important for her to welcome the baby.

Opinion about the main character: Even though paternal grandfather does not consider himself to be racist and is actually more liberal in his beliefs than his , his behavior says otherwise and a more forceful apology to everyone for his behavior should have been offered.   

The review of this Book prepared by Roberta Still a Level 7 Marbled Godwit scholar

Chapter Analysis of Family Tree

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   2000+ (Present Day) Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Struggle over    -   search for family/history Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   small businessman Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   5 () United States    -   Yes City?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only Amount of dialog    -   mostly dialog

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Barbara Delinsky Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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