Family Law

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Published by: Viking
Release Date: May 4, 2021
Pages: 304
ISBN13: 978-1984880628



Set in the early ’80s, Family Law follows a young lawyer, Lucia, who is making a name for herself at a time when a woman in a courtroom is still a rarity. She’s received plenty of threats for her work extricating women and children from troubled relationships, but her own happy marriage has always felt far removed from her work. When her mother’s pending divorce brings teenaged Rachel into Lucia’s orbit, Rachel finds herself captivated not only with Lucia, but with the change Lucia represents. Rachel is outspoken and curious, and she chafes at the rules her mother lays down as the bounds of acceptable feminine behavior. In Lucia, Rachel sees the potential for a new path into womanhood. But their unconventional friendship takes them both to a crossroads. When a moment of violence—a threat made good—puts Rachel in danger, Lucia has to decide how much her work means to her and what she’s willing to sacrifice to keep moving forward.

Written in alternating voices from Lucia and Rachel’s perspectives, Family Law is a fresh take on what the push for women’s rights looks like to the ordinary women and girls who long for a world redefined. Addressing mother daughter relationships and what roles we can play in the lives of women who aren’t our family, the novel examines how we shape each other and how we make a difference. The funny, strong, and yet tender-hearted female leads of Family Law illuminate a new take on timeless Southern fiction—atmospheric, rich, and with quietly surprising twists and nuances all its own.

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Why this Book?

I had several mothers who were not related to me at all, and my life is different because of them. A handful of teachers, particularly, opened up the world to me. In my previous novel Fierce Kingdom, I explored what it means to be a mother. In Family Law, I was interested in other kinds of mothers—women who reach out to students or neighbors or children wandering church aisles and sidewalks. Women who take the time and effort and humor to love that child and potentially open up new paths for them.

Years ago, I was working as a freelancer and interviewed a local lawyer in Birmingham for a piece about notable women. She stuck with me. When I started thinking about a novel centering on how women shape each other, she came to mind. I grew up in Montgomery, Al., in the 1980s, and my world was steeped in traditional notions of what a woman should be. I wondered what a girl like me might have thought about a woman like her.

And, finally, I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book that really captures the South I grew up in. It was urban and suburban and rural, with winding dirt roads but also shopping mall food courts and downtown traffic jams and Shakespearean theater and classmates applying to Stanford and Yale. It was a place full of conservatives and liberals, gay and straight, pick-up trucks and station wagons and Miatas. Tied to the past but pulled to the future, too. I wanted to try to capture the place that I’ve known, a place that doesn’t always match the fictional version.