Hyphenated Relations

Fiction - Thriller - General
269 Pages
Reviewed on 04/08/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

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.

Helen Huini

After losing her husband to an accident that also claimed her mother-in-law, Sam has not communicated with her father-in-law for over two years. She chooses to keep to the vows exchanged during her wedding ceremony; that she will stick by her husband’s side until death. After her husband’s death, Sam does not consider Harold as family anymore. Instead, she regards herself as his ex-daughter-in-law. Therefore, she is shocked when she comes home from work one evening and finds Harold meddling with her undergarments. As if that were not enough, Harold further reveals that he has found a woman he has dated for four months and wants to marry. Sam is reluctant to attend the ceremony when the wedding announcement is made until she meets Jeremy, Harold’s fiancee’s firstborn son. She cannot quite place why Marcie’s children want to stop their mother from marrying Harold, which puts Sam at the center of this family drama in Daniel Maunz's Hyphenated Relations.

Daniel Maunz develops the steady plot of Hyphenated Relations with suspense, revealing significant shifts in the storyline and just enough information to keep us engaged. He moves the storyline forward with compelling characters and a solid sense of time and place without sacrificing the overall mystery or leaving too many unanswered questions. The characters engage in realistic dialogues that advance the plot and build the action around each subsequent conflict, for instance, how Miguel always wants to take the middle ground in the plot against their mother’s marriage announcement. The dialogues are not only about what the characters say to each other but also how they say it. Maunz creates a world that makes sense and has its own rules, logic, and consistency. I recommend it to readers who enjoy family drama.

Rabia Tanveer

Hyphenated Relations by Daniel Maunz is the story of Sam Daly as she relearns what it is like to have a family. Sam’s whole life changes when her husband dies. Heartbroken and floundering, Sam does the only thing she can think of; lock her heart up and throw the key away. However, she has no idea her carefully curated plans are about to be thrown out the window. It all starts with Harold, her father-in-law, and his decision to get married to Marcie Porter. It was going to be simple, but then she finds out Marcie’s children are planning on sabotaging the wedding, and that changes everything. Sam just can’t sit on the sidelines and let that happen. She is finally drowning in a family drama she never anticipated. But that makes Sam question everything from her past to her present and also her scary future.

Hyphenated Relations was everything I wished it to be and a lot more. Sam’s journey is painfully beautiful. She has a lot of growing up to do. Sam thinks she can bottle up her emotions and carry on with her life. However, fate has other plans for her, and Sam realizes she doesn’t want to be alone all her life. Her relationship with Harold is hilarious. They push each other, and Harold especially ensures his daughter-in-law starts living once again. Grief has the power to change lives, and Sam is drowning in it but Harold and Marcie push her out of it. Sadie, Miguel, Colin, and Jeremy are also some of the characters who play a role in bringing Sam back to life. In a way, they became step-siblings. The story is entertaining, filled with cathartic elements, and perfected to bring your emotions to the surface. Daniel Maunz does justice to Sam, her journey to acceptance, and her moving on in life. I loved it and highly recommend it.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Hyphenated Relations by Daniel Maunz is a humorous story of love and life. After Sam Daly’s husband died, she withdrew to live quietly. She goes to work, goes home, and stays in – every day. When her father-in-law Harold reappears in her life, it’s to tell her that he’s getting married again to Marcie Porter. There’s more to Marcie than meets the eye, though. Sam doesn’t want to get involved but when she finds out that Marcie’s kids are intending to put a large spanner in the wedding works, Sam has no choice but to step in. This forces Sam to face her demons, and confront the past that’s been stopping her from living a full life. She has to answer a question she’s long tried to ignore – is she done with being part of a family?

Hyphenated Relations by Daniel Maunz is a wonderful tale with lots of humor and tears. It won’t take you long to read it, partly because it isn’t very long and partly because you won’t be able to put it down. It isn’t ideal for younger readers because of the use of explicit language and talk of death. You’ll be hooked on this right from the start and it will make you laugh and cry in equal measure. The characters are so real and well-developed that you almost feel as if you know them. Readers will certainly be able to identify with them, as each has a different personality that emerges as the story moves on. The author has dealt with the themes of grief, betrayal, beginnings, endings, and family very well, turning this into a story most of us can relate to in one way or another. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and am looking forward to more from this author.