Tuesday, July 22, 2014

BLOG TOUR: All I Love and Know by Judith Frank

Title: All I Love and Know
Author: Judith Frank
Genre: Adult Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: July 15/2014
Acquired:  Print ARC provided by publisher
Goodreads: ADD

With the storytelling power and emotional fidelity of Wally Lamb, this is a searing drama of a modern American family on the brink of dissolution, one that explores adoption, gay marriage, and love lost and found.

For years, Matthew Greene and Daniel Rosen have enjoyed a quiet domestic life together in Northampton, Massachusetts. Opposites in many ways, they have grown together and made their relationship work. But when they learn that Daniel's twin brother and sister-in-law have been killed in a bombing in Jerusalem, their lives are suddenly, utterly transformed.

In dealing with their families and the need to make a decision about who will raise the deceased couple's two children, both Matthew and Daniel are confronted with challenges that strike at the very heart of their relationship. What is Matthew's place in an extended family that does not completely accept him or the commitment he and Daniel have made? How do Daniel's questions about his identity as a Jewish man affect his life as a gay American? Tensions only intensify when they learn that the deceased parents wanted Matthew and Daniel to adopt the children-six year old Gal, and baby Noam.

The impact this instant new family has on Matthew, Daniel, and their relationship is subtle and heartbreaking, yet not without glimmers of hope. They must learn to reinvent and redefine their bond in profound, sometimes painful ways. What kind of parents can these two men really be? How does a family become strong enough to stay together and endure? And are there limits to honesty or commitment-or love?


There was so much of myself to be found in this narrative. I've been the other half of a grieving partner, I've felt the shame of my selfish reactions, my insensitive suggestions. All I Love and Know was a testament of what it means to be a human in love with another human, regardless of age, and sexual preference, and what it then means to test the limits of that love. I cannot even begin to tell you how refreshing it was to follow a narrative featuring a gay couple as it's leads, but not have that very fact be the focus. I want to kick myself for even implying that the relationship dynamic might be something that will make some readers uncomfortable, but I can't be ignorant to it either. This world is an ugly place, made even uglier by close-minded individuals. 

Personally, I think All I Love and Know is a book to be experienced by anyone who's had to adapt to a huge change, anyone who's had to completely rearrange the comforting routines of their life, to make room for a whole new set of realities. Matt is the bearer of horrific news, as the book begins with him having to tell his partner, Daniel, that Daniel's twin brother, Joel, and his wife Ilana, have been killed in a bombing. Together with Daniel's family, the couple travel to Jerusalem for a funeral that will not only drive home their losses, but also the fact that Joel and Illana's children will be coming back home with them, that they are now the newly appointed guardians of two little lives. Therein begins the struggles, Matt's struggle with this sudden change, and his anxiety about how to best console David; David's struggle with grief, and uncertainty. Faced with a family that never approved of their relationship to begin with, the couple must now figure out how to best fare with their OWN new little family. How far can the heart stretch?...

I adored the opposite personalities that resided within David and Matt. Matt the diva, the "shallow queen," and David, with his sturdy, silent, and strong presence-I couldn't decide who I liked more. And then just like that, it was everyone else in their lives, competing for a chance to be heard, and they were. Almost every voice in this book was indistinguishable from the other, all of them diverse to a fault. There were issues explored that were specific to the fact that two men were attempting to raise a family, and then there were issues whose roots plague every human being: loss, heartbreak, a need for acceptance, an intense, intense desire to just be wanted, and loved. There weren't any expectations held in waiting when I started All I Love and Know, to be honest, this was my first experience with same sex couples as main characters. I was in absolute awe of the way the author crafted this narrative, the confidence, and strength of her words, and what they did to my heart in turn. There was no denying that I was captured far before the first chapter even ended.

There are just those books that have the ability to teach you so much about other people, while managing to teach you even more about yourself. All I Love and Know was one of those books, and I urge you to read it as soon as you can.

Recommended for fans of: Contemporary, Cultural Fiction, Political Themes, Wally Lamb, LGBT Fiction.


Judith Frank holds a BA from the Hebrew University, and an MFA and PhD from Cornell University. She is the author of Crybaby Butch (Firebrand Books, 2004), which was awarded a Lambda Literary Award in 2005. In 2008 she received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship for All I Love and Know. She has been a resident at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and has published short fiction in The Massachusetts Review, other voices, and Best Lesbian Love Stories 2005. She teaches English and creative writing at Amherst College, and lives with her partner and two children in Amherst, MA.

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Thank-you to Trish from TLC Book Tours for hosting this tour, and to William Morrow for sending me a print ARC to review!

CLICK HERE to follow the rest of the tour

1 comment:

  1. To me, this is what life is about: "How far can the heart stretch?" Sometimes, it doesn't stretch as far as we wish it would, and other times we're surprised at how far it can stretch. That's one of the themes of one of my favorite books, The Unnamed.

    Thanks for being on the tour!


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