Set in Chicago and told from multiple perspectives, THICKER THAN BLOOD begins with Andrea Barton’s decision to adopt. Being single, she expects that her experience as a social worker will be a big bonus for her application, and in child-rearing. When an abandoned African-American infant needs a home, Andrea promptly agrees to foster the child, then adopt her, if the mother doesn’t step forward. The mother never does, and Andrea names the baby Pearl. But when Pearl grows into adolescence, her struggles with identity and class erupt, leaving Andrea grappling with her assumptions as well as her fears for Pearl’s safety. With her own relationships with her parents and sister strained, Andrea has only the guidance of a dear friend—and love—to take her through these painful years with Pearl, who suddenly, frighteningly, finally disappears.
In this compelling and deeply moving first novel, Jan English Leary examines race in America today, how we mother, and how secrets and traumas in one generation affect those following, all of which make THICKER THAN BLOOD a thought-provoking look at family and second chances.
Jan English Leary grew up in the Midwest and Central New York State. During her junior year at Smith College, she studied in Paris, an experience which fostered the love of travel that runs through her fiction. She received an M.A. in French Literature at Brown University. While teaching French and raising her children, she completed an MFA in Creative Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts. For the remainder of her career she taught fiction writing at Francis W. Parker School in Chicago and at Northwestern University. Her short fiction has appeared in Pleiades, The Literary Review, The Minnesota Review, Carve Magazine, and Long Story, Short Literary Journal and other publications.
She has received three Illinois Arts Council Awards. She lives in Chicago with her husband, John, an
artist and former teacher. Her website is http://janenglishleary.com/.