New York Time's best selling author Barbara Delinsky joins us to discuss her explosive novel Family Tree, which delves into the hot-button issues of race and family.
Thank you, Michele. It's a pleasure.
The couple in the novel, Dana and Hugh are white, but they give birth to a child who has African-American features. Is this even possible?
This is very definitely possible. Genetics is a very interesting field, and for the sake of this book, I did a lot of research. Certain traits can lie dormant for generations. Suddenly we can have a child who's got red hair, and we don't quite know where it came from. It can be a mix of different genes, or it can come from a family member from way back. The latest DNA tests are able to determine where we came from, literally, on four different levels: Asian, European, Native American and African. Now we can have a test and find out what percentage of each of these races we are. Racial purity is very very rare.
Authors often get the germ of a story from real life.
Maybe I read an article about Thomas Jefferson, because there was a lot of attention about the children and grandchildren and great grandchildren who he perhaps sired, and the racial element involved in that.
Dana and Hugh are so different, and yet so similar.
Dana comes from a family that doesn't really know its history, much as mine does not. She doesn't even know who her father is, or was. She doesn't know anything about him. Dana becomes who so many of us are, who would, in some very human ways, like to know where she came from. But then again, it's a little bit frightened of knowing, because she's not sure if she's going to be pleased.
Hugh knows everything about his family and takes pride in his family tree.
I found that interesting that you use knitting and stitch work as a metaphor in your book. Why?
There's been a resurgence of interest in knitting in this country, and that is something that has been around for generations and generations, so knitting becomes a parallel legacy to all those that are discussed in Family Tree.
What is the most significant message that you want to relay to your readers?
I want them to think about the fact that things are not always as they seem, that people may look to be one thing, and not be that thing, and that there's often personal anguish involved in this.
Barbara Delinsky's Family Tree is an utterly unforgettable novel that ask penetrating questions about race, family and the choices that people make in times of crisis.