Author: Diana Welch and Liz Welch with Amanda Welch and Dan Welch
Plot: The Welch family has everything going for them. The father is a banker and their mother a soap opera star, and the two have four children. Their story is that of a foundation of straw, however, and it is remarkable to see how quickly everything can fall apart. When the father is killed it turns out that the family is actually massively in debt, something the mother has no idea how to deal with. Then, just a month later, the mother is diagnosed with a cancer that will take her life within three years, leaving the four children ranging in age from 19 to 8, parentless. Not only parentless, but with no family stepping up to the plate to take them in and basically no close family friends who are stable enough or willing enough to keep the kids together. This leaves the kids with families who are iffy at best. This is no Party of Five - when the parents pass away, the four children go their separate ways, the three youngest to separate families, some going years without seeing each other.
Review: I liked this book a lot and found it hard to put down. While it's true that some of the siblings have more of a background in writing than the others, I don't feel that it detracted from the reading as a whole. The story was interesting and the main characters flawed, but engaging. The authors are fairly honest in displaying their questionable choices, although they don't engage in as much self-reflection as I would have liked to read. While complaining about how people like Diana's new "family" perceive them, there's not a lot of though into whether there's reason for the family to feel that way or how a different set of choices might have resulted in different reactions. However, this was a minor flaw in a book with so many strengths. The siblings take turns telling the story chronologically, by telling different short chapters in their own voice. This has the air of siblings explaining family events at the dinner table - interruptions, clarifications, two people remembering the same situation in different ways. Definitely worth a read.