In the Family Way (Paperback)
Random House, 9780812992472, 224pp.
Publication Date: June 29, 1999
"Two weeks after my brother Mitchell was killed, my mother finally emerged from her bedroom, hair uncombed, eyes puffy and wide. She said nothing to us, who watched her cross the floor to the bathroom, where she emptied the medicine cabinet. She stepped into the living room holding a waste can full of medicine bottles and announced that she had become a Christian Scientist. . . . I didn't know what Christian Science was, but I could see it had enabled my mother to walk from her bedroom and speak to us, and I was grateful for that."
In early 1960s South Carolina, Jeru Lamb is ten years old and trying to come to terms with his brother's death. He's also trying to understand his mother's conversion to Christian Science, his father's literary ambitions (and recent calling as "a Waffle House mystic"), the racial landscape of the segregated South, and a new classmate from the wrong side of town who claims to be his half-sister. "It was not lost on me that by expecting the worst every breathing moment, I backed into prophecy once in a while," says Jeru, and when his mother finds herself "in the family way"--against her doctor's orders--Jeru is left to wonder just what he might lose next.
Tommy Hays's first novel, Sam's Crossing, won accolades from critics nationwide. The New York Times Book Review called it "touching and funny--and revealing of the intricate workings of the human heart." The San Francisco Chronicle said it was "witty and engaging . . . [a novel that] explores the risks and rewards--vulnerability, compromise, intimacy and strength--of love." In the Family Way shows the maturation of this talented writer as he depicts, with heartbreaking simplicity, the end of things we love and the extraordinary capacity to begin again. And in Jeru Lamb he has created an engaging young narrator who takes us to the center of his world and its generous secrets.
Praise For In the Family Way…
"What a lovely novel. . . . In this sweet, dark, heartfelt family story, Tommy Hays has conjured up our lost American innocence without ever giving in to nostalgia. I surrendered on page one." --Richard Russo
"In this wry and compassionate novel, the narrator's family life is mysterious and beautiful, a kind of communal secret that everyone somehow knows. Tommy Hays has a gift for small details and large themes, and his novel radiates a kind of unsentimental sweetness and generosity that is quite rare in American writing." --Charles Baxter
"In the Family Way is the kind of book that works a gentle magic. . . . Readers are going to welcome its wisdom." --Josephine Humphreys
"Hays gives us a vivid new guide to the familiar territory of childhood. . . . An eloquent, suspenseful, and highly readable novel." --Margot Livesey
"In the Family Way examines the tragedies, both large and small, that pull families apart and oddly can also bring them back together. Hays tells this story in spare but affecting language, but mostly he tells it from the heart." --Ann Hood
"Tommy Hays has really found his voice, and it's not only a wryly entertaining one, it's wise. That voice folded me into the pages of In the Family Way and, like the haunting strains of a beautiful song, stays with me." --Louise Shivers