We: An Adop­tion and a Me­moir

Ben Barnz Wy­att-macken­zie Pub­lish­ing (NOVEM­BER) Hard­cover $18 (244pp), 978-1-948018-21-0

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews | Adult Nonfiction - JESSIE HORNESS

Ben Barnz’s part­ner has a the­ory that there is a ma­jor gen­er­a­tional shift for gay peo­ple ev­ery five years. This book, then, is a me­moir from al­most four zeit­geist changes ago. Beginning in the week of the 9/11 at­tacks, We is a taste of queer his­tory in a rapidly chang­ing world. Al­ter­nately heart wrench­ing and heart­warm­ing, Barnz’s story of the le­gal saga sur­round­ing the adop­tion of their first child is a valu­able con­tri­bu­tion to the col­lec­tive memory of how far we’ve come.

Wider nar­ra­tive aside, We is also a solidly good read. In­ter­spersed de­po­si­tion tran­scripts from the adop­tion case in­fuse the story with a court drama–es­que adrenaline that pro­pels the story for­ward. Root­ing for Barnz and his part­ner comes nat­u­rally, fos­tered by their por­trayal as flawed, lov­ing, re­al­is­tic be­ings. Their part­ner­ship is as­pi­ra­tionally strong, yet they also ex­hibit the pres­sure of their sit­u­a­tion, squab­ble un­der stress, and oc­ca­sion­ally be­have badly. Love and part­ner­ship per­sist not in spite of but be­cause of this three-di­men­sional hu­man­ity that queer cou­ples are so rarely af­forded.

Ev­ery once in a while, things seem a lit­tle too LA. Stick­ing it out past the early de­scrip­tions of the cou­ple in com­par­i­son to movie stars is worth it, though. Just about the time it be­comes easy to get salty about the cou­ple’s seem­ingly in­fi­nite re­sources to hire the best lawyers, for ex­am­ple, Barnz brings up his wor­ries about fi­nances, ex­presses his grat­i­tude for their priv­i­lege, and throws in a dis­cus­sion of the tur­moil around mas­culin­ity and money to boot. This self-aware­ness per­vades the book, bol­stered by a sense of hu­mor.

Warm hu­mored, his­tor­i­cally im­por­tant, and pulling on all of the heart­strings, We is a work of truly stand­out sto­ry­telling. Not rec­om­mended for evenings you can’t af­ford to stay up all night reading. Highly rec­om­mended for times that call for re­minders of the strength of the hu­man spirit.

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