by Ashley Nelson Levy
It is the day of her younger brother’s wedding and our narrator is struggling to compose her toast. She was nine years old when she travelled with her parents to Thailand to meet her brother Danny, and while their childhood in California was a happy one, when she holds their story up to the light, it refracts in ways she doesn’t expect. How to put words to their love?
What follows is a heartfelt letter addressed to Danny and an excavation of their years growing up. Invoking everything from the classic Victorian adoption plot to childless women in literature to documents from Danny’s case file, her narration is also a confession of sorts: to the parts of her life that she has kept from Danny, including her own struggle with infertility. And as the hours until the wedding tick down, she uncovers the words that can’t and won’t be said aloud.
In Immediate Family, a fiercely tender debut novel, one luminous with love, Ashley Nelson Levy explores the complexities of motherhood, infertility, race, and the many definitions of family.