Books — Sperm-donor's little girl

Donorboy, by Brendan Halpin, Villard Books, 2004, 209 pages.

Donorboy is all about the oh-holy-crap moment.

You know, –Congratulations!It’s a boy/girl! You’re a parent!

Oh holy crap!

Most people experience this oh holy crap moment surrounded by health care professionals in a delivery room when their child is too young to see the look of panic or to remember the first few missteps.

But sometimes, through adoption or marriage, that oh-crap moment happens when the new son or daughter is older and when the new parent hasn’t had nine months of preparation.

And sometimes, the oh-crap-you’re-a-parent moment happens after the lesbian mothers of your biological teenage daughter (who is the result of an early-20s trip to the sperm bank) are crushed in a highway accident involving a truck full of foodstuffs.

Rosalind, the 14-year-old central character in the epistolary novel Donorboy, writes in her grief journal about the awkward attempts at parenthood of her newly discovered father, Sean. His oh-holy-crap moments involve figuring out what to do when she starts smoking and how to keep her from sneaking out to go get drunk.

Sean knew very little about Rosalind until her mothers died, leaving him the sole parent of a grief-stricken, typically scornful teenager.

Which is the other thing that Donorboy is all about—from the buzzwords-filled meetings with clueless administrators to the social status of high school cliques, Donorboy uses the jaded Rosalind to savage the teenage world from both the child and the parent point of view.

Aw, something for everybody.

Told via e-mails, IMs, meeting transcripts and Rosalind’s grief journal (which, in charming alterna-teen fashion, she nicknames Fluffy), Donorboy has a smart sense of humor while still having an enormous heart. Like that rare television show that allows its adults to be as multi-dimensional and interesting as its teens, this book allows us to root for the stumbling Sean as well as the devastated Rosalind as they slowly figure out how to talk to each other.

Though the book starts out feeling a little afterschool-special-like, Sean is as fully realized in his non-dad-ness as Rosalind is in her rebellious teenness. When does he discipline her for mocking a moronic prinicpal and when does he laugh with her?

Perhaps the best part of this father-daughter relationship is the fact that we seldom see their scenes together, only their individual reactions to them. Through their e-mails to third parties, we learn that they are usually both having an oh-crap-now-what moment together.

—Amy Diaz


2004 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH