In this insightful and entertaining collection, writers including Judith Thurman, Kathryn Harrison, John Hodgman, and Peter Ho Davies reflect on a lifetime of being an only. They describe what it’s like to be an only child of divorce, an only because of the death of a sibling, an only who reveled in it, or an only who didn’t. As adults searching for partners, they are faced with the unique challenge of trying to turn their family units of three into units of four, and as they watch their parents age, they come face-to-face with the onus of being their families’ sole historians.
Whether you’re an only child, the partner or spouse of an only, a parent pondering whether to stop at one, or a curious sibling, Only Child offers a look behind the scenes and into the hearts of twenty-one smart and sensitive writers as they reveal the truth about growing up–and being a grown-up–solo.
About Only Child
Only children don’t have to share bedrooms, toys, or the backseat of a car. They don’t have to share allowances, inheritances, or their parents’ attention. But when they get into trouble, they can’t just blame their imaginary friends. In Only Child, twenty-one acclaimed writers tell the truth about life without siblings—the bliss of solitude, the ache of loneliness, and everything in between.
In this unprecedented collection, writers like Judith Thurman, Kathryn Harrison, John Hodgman, and Peter Ho Davies reflect on the single, transforming episode that defined each of them as an only child. For some it came while lurking around the edges of a friend’s boisterous family, longing to be part of the chaos. For others, it came in sterile hospital halls, while single-handedly caring for a parent with cancer. They write about the parents who raised them, from the devoted to the dismissive. They describe what it’s like to be an only child of divorce, an only because of the death of a sibling, an only who reveled in it or an only who didn’t.
In candid, poignant, and often hilarious essays, these authors—including the children of Erica Jong, Alice Walker, and Phyllis Rose—explore a lifetime of onliness. As adults searching for partners, they are faced with the unique challenge of trying to turn a longtime trio into a quartet. In deciding whether to give junior a sib, they weigh the benefits of producing the friend they never had against the fear that they will not know how to divide their love and attention among multiples. As they watch their parents age, they come face-to-face with the onus of being their family’s sole historian.
Whether you’re an only child curious about how your experiences compare to others’, the partner or spouse of an only, a parent pondering whether to stop at one, or someone with siblings who’s always wondered how the other half lives, Only Child offers a look behind the scenes and into the hearts of twenty-one smart and sensitive writers as they reveal the truth about growing up—and being a grown-up—solo.
From the Hardcover edition.
Paperback | $15.00
Published by Three Rivers Press Feb 26, 2008| 272 Pages| 5-3/16 x 8| ISBN 9780307238078
Ebook | $10.99
Published by Crown Archetype Feb 26, 2008| ISBN 9780307409997
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“Some of the onlies loathed their solitary state . . . Others reveled in the spotlight . . . But most of the entries fall somewhere in between–contented but bittersweet.” —New York Times
“The dueling characteristics of the only child–lonely or independent? precocious or smart-mouthed? clingy or loyal?–[are] the makings . . . of a collection of twenty-one essays by various writers exploring the pleasures and paucity of a life without siblings.” —New York Observer
“(H)onest, insightful and entertaining…these diverse essays play exceedingly well together.” —Time Out New York