Today I’d like to share A Theory of Expanded Love by Caitlin Hicks with you all. Caitlin and I share an editor, so I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of the book. It will be released next week, but you can pre-order it now.
I loved reading this book. The main character, Annie, and her family reminded me of the large families in knew growing up in Massachusetts. I was friendly with two sisters that were the seventh and eighth children in a family of twelve, and got to see how such a large family ran like a machine. Unlike me, my friends were never lonely, however, they were never alone. Caitlin Hick’s book took back to those days of playing kickball down the street and hanging in out in my friend’s chaotic, but love-filled, house.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Twelve-year-old Annie’s life is dominated by her Catholicism. She is number six of thirteen children and obsessed with how the election of the next pope could push her family into the spot of ‘best Catholic family’ in the parish. She even toys with the idea of becoming a nun to help their candidate gain favor. In this coming of age story, we peek into what it truly means to be part of a big family filled with people all struggling to do the right thing. At this pivotal time in Annie’s young life, she identifies herself in relationship to a patriarchy, be it the Catholic Church or the house ruled by her iron-fisted, ex-Navy father.
Set against the world events of 1963, A Theory of Expanded Love is the story of how Annie finds the strength to defy the patriarchy that defines her life, and follow her own moral compass. Although she seemed caught up in the rules and outer trappings of her Catholicism, she’d been listening during Mass. When someone she loves needs her, she acts on her convictions with compassion and love.
Caitlin Hicks captures the inner workings of a twelve-year-old’s mind with empathy and humor. Annie is learning about the world, yet still has many questions about how the world of adults works. She is at the age where she is beginning to see her parents as fallible individuals that deserve forgiveness for their mistakes. Annie is wise beyond her years yet retains a child’s sense of optimism.