Baby of the Family

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Dec 2019

Member Reviews

The subtitle of this book could be "Or, Money Doesn't Buy Happiness".
I was initially attracted to this book by the cover -- it shows a real New England bed and breakfast where I've stayed many times, so I was eager to delve into the contents, which sounded somewhat promising. 
From the publisher: A wry and addictive debut about a modern-day American dynasty and its unexpected upheaval when the patriarch wills his dwindling fortune to his youngest, adopted son--setting off a chain of events that unearth family secrets and test long-held definitions of love and family.
The Whitby family (think Astors) were once one of the most prominent families in New York, with extensive real estate holdings. But when patriarch Roger Whitby dies, he is alone, despite having children from four separate marriages. Roger leaves his estate to his son, Nick, age 21; undermining his daughters (from different marriages) Shelley and Brooke. Nick, meanwhile, is nowhere to be found -- he's on the run. Brooke's search for Nick, his reappearance, and Shelley's own secrets create a tangled web; throw in Nick's love affair with the daughter of Shelley's employer and secrets of the past begin to tumble out, along with the uncertainty of the future. 
This is Maura Roosevelt's (yes, she's related to the presidential family) debut novel, another fact about this title which intrigued me. While some reviewers have characterized the characters as unlikable, I wouldn't go that far; I think they were believable. There's room for improvement in the writing, as is so often the case with a first novel. This one might be worth taking a chance on if you enjoy reading about family interactions. 
I received an advance reader copy of this title from NetGalley and the publisher; this is my honest review.
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Baby Of The Family was definitely an investment for me!  I trusted Ms Roosevelt to take me on a journey and introduce me to a world I have not experienced.  My trust was well placed.  BotF is blurbed as a family saga, and it's definitely a dysfunctional family.  The Whitby family Patriarch, father of 9 children, through 4 different mothers, dies and leaves the family "fortune" to his youngest, adopted, son.  I think what I appreciated most about this novel was the complexity of the characters, and there are many.  The final arc of the story centers on 3 children, including the youngest.  Are they likeable? Perhaps not, however I liked seeing the changes and growth in the primary characters.  There are some secondary characters whose arcs were left unfinished, and that bothered me a bit. 
The pacing is slow, at times uneven, and the heaviness of the family's dysfunction can be wearing at times.  I was entertained. I may suggest this as a book discussion selection, as it certainly led me to want to discuss what I had read. 
I would read more from Maura Roosevelt.
I received my copy through NetGalley under no obligation.
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Good book!!  I enjoyed these characters, and I thought this was a well written story about a family and I like how the different points of view were portrayed.  I would definitely read more by this author!
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Baby of the Family by Maura Roosevelt: I received a free copy from @netgalley (a way to beat the library holds list—ebooks take forever 😅). While I was so excited to try this free copy thing, I don’t necessarily love this book. I’m intrigued by the family drama, but the characters seem to fall flat. Plus, I don’t like when all the young female characters let men take advantage of them. However, there are definitely interesting plot points and things to keep me reading! Just not one of my favorites.
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This book was a shot in the dark for me - it's outside my normal reading comfort zone. I saw the buzz and I wanted to see what this was about. Maybe it was because I went into it knowing it's not what I normally read? I just had a really hard time like the characters and caring about what was going on.
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Read this book straight through - could not put it down!  If you love a good family saga, this is definitely the book for you - completely kept my interest throughout the entire book!
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This book was a DNF for me. The characters were unlikable and shallow.  I was hoping there would be more to the storyline besides squandering money and influence but the characters remained unrelatable. The premise had intrigued me but the development of plot and personality fell short. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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I finished reading this novel a few days ago, but it seems that I cannot stop processing it. This is the story of the remnants of a once great family. It focuses on the three youngest children of a very careless, destructive and irrational patriarch. 

It is the story of Shelley, Brooke and Nick, siblings who have different mothers and have had tenuous connections during their lives. The catalyst is the death of paterfamilias Roger Whitby, member of the esteemed, once wealthy Whitby family. His death and his will cause a family crisis, threatening his youngest daughters while leaving the remainder of his fortune to his adopted son, Nick. 

The author was able to bring these characters to life, their actions and motivations proved to put me in a hypnotic state as I traveled into Whitbyland. The descriptions of the characters and their surroundings are more vivid than anything I have read recently. I generally have a problem with too many characters, but the richness which the author uses to describe each character precludes any confusion. 

There are secondary characters, but each moves the plot along and furthers our understanding of the protagonists. The bizarre Mr. Gupta and his daughter Grace, are skillfully woven into the plot. 

I loved Shelley, I wanted to understand her motivations, she absolutely engaged me (still is) in trying to figure out what made her tick. I found I admired Brooke the most beleaguered and warm, the thoughtful caretaker sibling. It is Nick who left me unsure about my feelings. I think my total relationship with the characters demonstrates the quality and depth of the novel.
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I received an ARC of this book.  I was really excited to read this and was slightly disappointed.  I liked the beginning but found I was making myself continue to read this.  I wasn't really invested in the characters and therefore became not invested in the story.  Sadly, I skimmed the last 2/3 of this book.
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The author is a descendant of "THAT" Roosevelt family and one can't help but imagine some of the dialogue carried out by the main characters may well have sprung from countless interactions in which she had to explain "Yes, as in, THE Roosevelt family." 

The main characters, a far-flung family of half- and step-siblings are narrated in mildly overlapping anecdotes, culminating in a trio of principal siblings arriving at a decisive moment in time after a prolonged estrangement. This book was filled with characters that were hard to like, but ones who stay with you long after the last page has turned. Referenced liberally throughout, The Great Gatsby, is also a good comparison point for me as a reader. It is not a sweet story with a happy plot running through, but it will be one you remember and characters that will likely resurface in readings of other books through reader's inner monologues.

And for those that like a bit of resolution with their drama and angst, rest assured, the last chapter will satisfy your need to know how it all comes 'round.

I had the opportunity to read this book as a digital ARC offered by NetGalley in return for a fair and honest review. #BabyOfTheFamily #NetGalley
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2.5 A novel written by a Roosevelt, with a Kennedy like family at the center of the story is intriguing, and while I enjoyed parts of the book there was much that fell short.

The baby in the title of the book is the youngest, and adopted son of a large, dysfunctional, aristocratic, American family. When Roger Whitby, the patriarch of this messy group dies, he leaves his entire fortune to Nick, the 20 something "baby". 

Good premise, but somewhere along the way, what should be the core of the book, gets lost around the search for Nick, his screwed up slightly older half-sister Shelley and her peccadilloes, and Brooke, another of his half-siblings, and her problems.

The book was bogged down with no clear direction and I found myself bored and wishing it would all just end. The writing was strong though and just needed some editing to help move the story along.
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This novel’s epigraph includes a quote from George W. Bush:  “When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible.”  That is a perfect summary of the book; it is about three young people acting irresponsibly.

Roger Whitby, the patriarch of a once enormously wealthy family, dies and leaves his diminished fortune to his 21-year-old son.  Nick is his youngest son, actually a stepson; Roger’s fourth wife was a single mother when she met Roger.  Though Roger has several other children from his previous three marriages, Nick inherits everything, including houses currently occupied by these other children.  

The book focuses on three siblings from three of Roger’s marriages.  Nick is unaware of his father’s death because he is a member of an eco-terrorist group and has to go into hiding after an attack on a biotech lab.  Shelley drops out of college and gets a job as an amanuensis for a blind architect with whom she develops an unhealthy relationship.  Brooke is a nurse who becomes pregnant but is really in love with a woman.  Shelley and Brooke could both lose their homes to Nick and so are anxious to find him.  

None of the three is likeable.  The reader is supposed to feel sympathy for the three because each was abandoned by Roger; flashbacks are used to emphasize their feelings of abandonment when Roger left their mothers and thereafter gave them only sporadic attention:  “But every time he’d shown up had also corresponded with a minor breakdown in his daily life.”  As a consequence, they are looking for the affection and stability they didn’t have as children.  They also feel burdened by the expectations placed on them because of their family name:  “The Whitbys of the last few generations were rather afflicted with the sincere and problematic issue of not knowing what the hell to do.”

Actually, however, the Whitby name means less and less; in fact, the book opens commenting on this:  “There was a time when the death of a Whitby would have made the evening post.  Two generations earlier, flags would have been flown at half-mast and taps played in town squares at dusk. . . . But when Roger Whitby Jr. died half a century later, there was no such hubbub.”  The name does, however, still carry enough cachet that it gives people a sense of superiority; one outsider comments on the greatest benefit of being a Whitby:  “you were born knowing you had worth.  This entitlement, randomly assigned by the universe, was simply not fair.”  Nick, Shelley and Brooke need to overcome any feelings of being extraordinary and get on with “the beastly process of becoming” their own persons.  

The three are spoiled rich kids.  The author takes pains to point out that “The rich are no different from the rest; different only, perhaps, in the inclination to be more outrageous.”  However, it seems that the rich take longer to grow up.  (Maybe the title has more than one meaning?)  Only at 21 years of age does Nick realize he must accept responsibility for his decisions and their consequences:  “As he owned up to it all, he realized that every single action was a result of his own choices.  He was responsible for it all”?!  They also seem to have little self-control; all three have anger issues:  Nick “was filled with an anger that teetered on uncontrollable” and “A sense of injustice began to fill [Shelley] with anger. . . . It simply wasn’t fair” and “Overcome with anger, [Brooke] dropped to her knees on the wet sand too, exasperated.”  Brooke calls Shelley “young and self-absorbed” but 37-year-old Brooke is not much better.   She is in a panic because she might actually have to pay rent for the first time in her life?!  The truth is that the three have endless opportunities yet all they do is whine.

I really struggled to get through the book.  It goes on and on (450+ pages) and I cared less and less about the three protagonists, three poor rich kids who keep acting irresponsibly and making stupid decisions.   The author is the great-granddaughter of Eleanor Roosevelt and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt; her 2014 marriage received mention in The New York Times.  She could very well be writing about her family, but the portrait of her generation is not flattering.  

Note:  I received a digital galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.
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Baby of the Family is a novel about the once influential Whitby family.

Roger Whitby, the four times married family patriarch, has died after squandering a majority of his wealth. He’s left what remains of his estate to his youngest (adopted) son, Nick, the son of his fourth wife. Nick is a young man who has been struggling to find a purpose in his life. As his father is dying, Nick becomes involved in an act of political activism, and then goes missing.

Brooke, Roger’s daughter from his second marriage, is dealing with her own issues. She’s pregnant by a man she doesn’t love, afraid to admit to the love she has for Allie, and her house—the one thing she has from her dad—has just become part of Nick’s inheritance. Brooke doesn’t even really know Nick and has no idea if she’ll be forced out of the house. She’s barely able to get by on her nursing job, and the thought of having to add rent or a mortgage to her financial plan—in addition to the cost of having a baby—has left her unsure of the right decisions.

Roger’s daughter Shelley is living with her mother in the New York apartment Roger walked out of years ago. Her mom has left after descending into a years-long cycle of depression. Desperate for income, Shelley takes a job with a very peculiar man, and ends up in a complex relationship with him.

Told from the point of view of these three Whitby children, each abandoned and let down by their father, it explores the complex relationships between children and their parents. It’s really about finding and being yourself, despite your familial relations.

It was hard to identify with the characters (for obvious reasons—the lack of my own family fortune), but they were interesting enough to keep me reading. Baby of the Family wasn’t a novel that drew me in and kept me on the edge of my seat, but I was passively interested enough to continue reading to find out what happens to each of the characters.

*I received an ARC of Baby of the Family from Netgalley and Dutton Books in exchange for an honest review
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I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  This book was just okay.  Based on a once great family, the book focuses on several members of the family after the patriach dies.  I didn't particularly like the characters, who describes events that have happened in their lives, none of which are very interesting.  It sounded like a good storyline, but the actual story just wasn't enough to keep me interested.
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I love big family epics. Multiple characters, timelines and a large family secret - these are the stories I love and return to year after year. Sadly, Baby of the Family will not be this book for me.

Told over multiple narrators and timeline, this is the story of the Roger Whitby Jr. children. Roger has died and left a strange request in his will. What follows is a rather boring family history, told via Brooke and Shelley. It's a very rich person story. There's nothing all that interesting is people being upset that they didn't get a house once their dad died. 

Maura Roosevelt is a good writer but perhaps this isn't the story for her to tell. It was just....white people problems.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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Until reading this book, I don't believe I've ever read a book that centers around a made up family dynasty (think along the lines of the Astors). I guess I can say I'm grateful that this one was my first, because it didn't disappoint. Baby of the Family is literary fiction at its finest.

This story centers around the Whitby family, particularly Nick, Brooke, and Shelley, all children of Roger, the family patriarch, just deceased when the story begins. Through flashbacks as well as present day, these children of Roger's all begin to unfold before us, the experiences and feelings from their past that they carry into the present, and the growth they experience along the way as they begin to find themselves and their place not only with this family name as a whole, but as individuals. We have Nick, the determined political activist unafraid of breaking the law, living on the edge, yet the sole child who receives every last bit of Roger's inheritance. Then there's Shelley, college dropout who moves back home to her apartment she grew up in, lacking confidence and struggling to find her place. She begins working for a blind writer and from there things unfold in her relationship with him in a difficult way. And lastly we have Brooke, a nurse, the more "caretaker" sort of the three, who winds up unexpectedly pregnant and takes on the search for Nick herself. 

I loved that the story was told through these multiple perspectives, and how  we got to come alongside such a unique and different set of individuals in these characters. My heart hurt for them, got mad at them, and ultimately came to care so much for them. Maybe it's because I'm a mom that my hearts to fully went out to these, at least in the beginning, struggling characters. I feel like I got to know Nick, Brooke, and Shelley as acquaintances through how vibrantly the author brought them to life on the pages. We see before in these sons and daughters a quintessential American family harboring secrets and lies that ultimately have the power to pull them apart or bring them together. 

This story is purely character development. There are a whole lot of characters and their stories to keep track of, and you have to be willing to stick with them over the span of 400+ pages, even when their unlikable or making poor decisions. This isn't something that bothers me personally, in fact I gravitate to books like this, because I enjoy seeing who these people end up to be by the end of the book. I guess I just love that element of growth and "redemption" if you will. But, I  can already say that if this doesn't sound like your cup of tea, I think you might want to skip over this one. Or at least make sure you're in the right mindspace to pick it up.

I will say the book took me a while to read, and would say as a caution not to go into it think it's one you can just easily breeze through. There's a lot to process and come to understand over the course of the story. Though I don't want this to make the book sound like a bore. It was anything but that! The author clearly has an incredible talent for storytelling, and we see that play out here so beautifully and perfectly. Even with everything going on, it all wove together flawless and lined up precisely. I was so pleased with how the story kept building at a gentle pace, and how everything came together at the end. I found the story to be moving and engaging, and it absolutely satisfied my expectations going in. Since reading it I've thought about it many times, and imagine it will continue in my thoughts for a long time to come. I was overall very pleased with the reading experience, and I can only hope that this author will write another book in the future.

Thank you to Netgalley and Dutton for the free review copy in exchange for my honest review.
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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Interesting novel.   I enjoyed the book and could see it as a Lifetime movie.  It was good, but forgettable.
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Baby of the Family by Maura Roosevelt is at the top of my list to read.  I am so excited based on the description of the book. There are not enough books out there about family dynasties, I love reading about families that date far back and have a glamorous but troubled history.

A wry and addictive debut about a modern-day American dynasty and its unexpected upheaval when the patriarch wills his dwindling fortune to his youngest, adopted son–setting off a chain of events that unearth family secrets and test long-held definitions of love and family.

The Whitbys: a dynasty akin to the Astors, once enormously wealthy real-estate magnates who were considered “the landlords of New York.”

There was a time when the death of a Whitby would have made national news, but when the family patriarch, Roger, dies, he is alone. Word of his death travels from the longtime family lawyer to his clan of children (from four separate marriages) and the news isn’t good. Roger has left everything to his twenty-one-year-old son Nick, a Whitby only in name, including the houses currently occupied by Shelley and Brooke–two of Roger’s daughters from different marriages. And Nick is nowhere to be found.

Brooke, the oldest of the children, who is unexpectedly pregnant, leads the search for Nick, hoping to convince him to let her keep her Boston home and her fragile composure. Shelley hasn’t told anyone she’s dropped out of college just months before graduating, and is living in her childhood apartment while working as an amanuensis for a blind writer named Anandaroop Gupta, with whom she develops a rather complicated relationship. And when Nick, on the run from the law after a misguided and dramatic act of political activism, finally shows up at Shelley’s New York home, worlds officially collide as Nick and Mr. Gupta’s daughter fall in love. Soon, all three siblings are faced with the question they have been running from their whole lives: What do they want their future to look like, if they can finally escape their past?

Weaving together multiple perspectives to create a portrait of an American family, and an American dream gone awry, Baby of the Family is a book about family secrets–how they define us, bind us together, and threaten to blow us (and more) apart–as well as an amusing and heartwarming look at the various ways in which a family can be created.

This novel promises to be full of secrets, consequences of decisions that impact family members, sibling rivalry.

March 5th 2019
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The Whitbys are an American dynasty that has succumbed to the passage of time. Once a family of great wealth and notoriety, the most recent generations have squandered away their money and influence. When the current patriarch of one branch of the family, Roger Whitby, Jr., dies, his multiple children from four tumultuous marriage most sift through what's left. Brooke, the dutiful youngest daughter of Roger's second marriage, finds out first that what's left of everything, including her home and that of her youngest half-sister, Shelley, has been left to the youngest, the adopted son, Nick. All the siblings suffer from the world Roger has pulled them into. Brooke has been in search for some stability ever since her father left for a new family. Shelley never felt her father's affection, she never could shake the feeling that she was a mistake. And Nick didn't want to be involved. And now he's disappeared. Has he gotten in some kind of trouble? Brooke recruits Shelley to start the search, with the family's past following close behind. 

Overall, Baby of the Family is a story about growing up and taking responsibility for oneself. All three siblings have a thing or two to learn in this aspect. I just finished reading a narrative about the Patty Hearst kidnapping. I ended up seeing a lot of parallels in these two stories regarding actions and consequences, especially when the players are from wealthy families (if no longer particularly rich, then still wealthy in connections). At some points I grew frustrated with the spoiled Whitby siblings, but they were just children trying desperately to find their place in the world. We can all relate to that.
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This book was just not my cup of tea. I picked it up and put it down a few times, but I couldn’t manage to finish it. I found it to be quite verbose and I had a difficult time keeping all of the characters straight.
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