An "extraordinary" page-turning generational saga about a young man's search for a parent he never knew, and a moving portrait of motherhood, race, and the truths we hide in the name of family (Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple)
Jenry Castillo is a musical prodigy, raised by a single mother in Miami. He arrives at Brown University on a scholarship—but also to learn more about his late father, Jasper Patterson, a famous ballet dancer who died tragically when Jenry was two. On his search, he meets his estranged grandfather, Winston Patterson, a legendary professor of African American history and a fixture at the Ivy League school, who explodes his world with one question: Why is Jenry so focused on Jasper, when it was Winston’s daughter, Juliet, who was romantically involved with Jenry’s mother? Juliet is the parent he should be looking for—his other mother.
Revelation follows revelation as each member of Jenry’s family steps forward to tell the story of his origin, uncovering a web of secrecy that binds this family together even as it keeps them apart. Moving seamlessly between the past and the present, The Other Mother is a daring, ambitious novel that celebrates the complexities of love and resilience—masterfully exploring the intersections of race, class, and sexuality; the role of biology in defining who belongs to whom; and the complicated truth of what it means to be a family.
Harper (This Side of Providence) returns with a riveting exploration of an Afro-Cuban family's secrets. Talented pianist Jenry Castillo leaves Miami for Brown University on a scholarship. In addition to pursuing his passion for music, he's determined to learn more about the life of Jasper Patterson, whom his mother, Marisa, met while she was at Brown decades earlier, and who died shortly after Jenry was born. Marisa has told Jenry that Jasper was his father, and that he was a famous ballet dancer. When Jenry meets Jasper's father, Winston, a Black emeritus history professor, Winston reveals a long-kept secret: it's not Jasper Jenry should be searching for, but Jasper's sister, Juliet, his mom's former girlfriend with whom Marisa had the baby. Learning about his "other mother," as Winston calls Juliet, shatters Jenry's relationship with Marisa. Meanwhile, Winston has been harboring secrets that threaten to undo his relationship with Juliet. Harper skillfully layers the narrative with accounts from the various characters' points of view, capturing palpable emotions and the fissures running through their fraught relations, all the while handling themes of motherhood, race, and sexuality with aplomb. This adds up to a heartrending story.