The Kids Are All Right
By Diana Welch, Liz Welch, Amanda Welch, and Dan Welch
352 pages; Harmony
It would be difficult to imagine a family as fortunate as the Welches: a handsome, charismatic father who is a successful businessman; a beautiful, charming, and talented mother; four healthy, bright children; a huge house in the exclusive New York City suburb of Bedford, complete with dogs and horses, tennis and swimming. But beginning in 1982, tragedy struck the Welches with alarming frequency. First, Dad is killed in a car crash, leaving behind a mysterious mountain of debt. A month later Mom is diagnosed with cancer. For the next three years she fights valiantly, agonizingly, and interminably, succeeding only in fraying the love and patience of her devoted family. When she finally dies, her children, orphaned and destitute, are parceled out to various neighbors and friends who mostly prove unable or unwilling to care for them.
The story of their family's wrenching dissolution and slow, difficult, and hard-earned reunification is related by all four Welch children in alternating sections of The Kids Are All Right
. They deftly pass the narrative baton from one to another, and the resulting book is both well crafted and beautifully written, not to mention tremendously engrossing and moving. I couldn't put it down, and came to love and respect every member of this singular family. Although the voice changes little from one author to the next, each child emerges as a complex and sympathetic character. And, in addition to honestly portraying themselves, they have together created indelible portraits of both their parents. See all of this month's reviews