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Reviewed by Jessica Barbosa for Readers' Favorite
Sam Daly has been through her share of tragedies. After her husband’s passing, she isolated herself from everyone and everything aside from work. Her days are a constant, predictable cycle and she prefers it that way. Unfortunately, her father-in-law, Harold, did not get the memo and happily bulldozes his way back into her life. He is getting married to a woman named Marcie, moving on from the tragedy of losing his wife and son to the same accident. They have not talked for two years but Harold still wants to invite her to his wedding. He still considers her family but Sam has built a wall around her heart. She is determined not to go to his engagement party but when she learns about a plot to sabotage Harold’s chance at happiness, she realizes she has no choice but to get involved. What is the drama behind Marcie Porter’s family? Will Sam be able to stop them from ruining Harold’s new chance at happiness? Read Hyphenated Relations by Daniel Maunz to find out.
Hyphenated Relations is an aptly named story for the complicated relationship between daughter-in-law Sam and her former father-in-law, Harold. Sam’s husband and Harold's son, Mike, had been their connection to each other but after the accident, Sam shuts everyone out of her life. Harold refuses to let the death of his son and wife cut his connection off with his daughter-in-law too. For Harold, she is still part of his family, his daughter. Maunz’s narrative emphasizes the importance of family and the complications and drama that often come with it. It shows both the upsides and the downsides of familial relationships. Family isn’t always about being blood bound to one another; family can also be by choice. Family chooses to be there during the happy times and the tough times and even when you have given up on yourself, a family doesn't give up on you.
Hyphenated Relations has an intriguing plotline with a twist I never saw coming. The characters are well-rounded and distinctive; they have their agendas and beliefs that add depth and turmoil to the story. The deeper I got into it, the more hooked I was by the messy affairs between Marcie and her children and Sam’s role in their drama. The story’s pace is perfect and the narrative is engrossing so it was hard to put it down for even a second! Overall, Hyphenated Relations is a heartrending, exquisite masterpiece that taught me about family, friendship, and grief. It has made a home in my heart and mind. This truly was an outstanding and unforgettable book.