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“Family Ties” by Sarah Richman

Family Ties

Family Ties is a middle-grade novel set slightly in the future, in a world where androids and humans coexist, though not entirely in harmony. The first generation of androids lived on the edges of society, but now the second generation is slowly being integrated into the mainstream. Android neighborhoods are established, and there are even programs opening up schools to android kids and teens. But, some humans fear and hate androids, and want to prevent them from finding a place in the human world.

Julie is a freshman in high school, and though she loves media club and doing the morning announcements, she’s made few friends. Julie knows that her family will be moving soon, so she keeps to herself. Julie’s parents are anti-android, and don’t want to live anywhere where androids are accepted in society. When Julie’s high school accepts its first android students, Julie is told she’ll have to share the morning announcements with Leila, a junior- and an android. Julie has a choice to make- can she move past prejudices and make new friends, or should she stick to what her family believes?

This book is an entertaining read that still asks deep questions about what it means to be a person. While the parallels to the civil rights struggle aren’t exact, it’s obvious that this narrative is meant to show the dangers of extremism, with anti-android sentiment standing in for white supremacy. In fact, though possibly not intentionally, this novel more closely reflects the experience of refugees, people who struggle to make a home in the United States but still face prejudice from many.

The story lands really well- Julie is a sympathetic protagonist, but clearly still in the wrong. When she fails to understand the damage her parents’ views are doing, she experiences a kind of “human privilege.” The other characters are well-defined and easy to understand, even the ones we’re not supposed to like. Julie’s parents, in particular, are very well-written. The android teens are by far the most fun, and I would have really liked to see more of them. Overall, this is an engaging read and a great book for anyone looking for some middle grade science fiction that still hits heavy.

Family Ties can be purchased wherever books are sold, or borrowed from your local library. The author of this book provided a copy for review. Disclosure: This reviewer is a friend of Sarah Richman’s, however, reviews at Chamber of Spoilers are unbiased and reflect only this reviewer’s opinion of the book.