Book review: 'Family By Design' puts together an unexpected family

By Kelsey Hansen

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, April 21 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

"FAMILY BY DESIGN: But Subject to Change Without Notice," by Heather Justesen, Bonneville Books, 245 pages (f)

The idea of family takes on an additional definition in Heather Justesen's recent book, "Family by Design: But Subject to Change Without Notice."

After a tragic accident, Tucker is left as guardian to his brother's two young children. Because he is single and a reservist in the U.S. Marine Corps, Child Protective Services workers informs Tucker that he needs a woman who will act as wife and mother to his new family.

Tucker's best friend Rena, who is an interior designer, seems like the obvious choice. The only problem is that they aren't in love. Regardless, Tucker proposes marriage, and the young "couple" must decide if a marriage without passion and intimacy is worth it to have the family that they have both always wanted.

Rena is a likable and relatable character that the reader can't help but root for. She has had plenty of trials in her life and is handed a family on a platter. Even though it isn't the way she expected to have a family, she is still grateful for the children and is more than willing to step up and be a wife to Tucker and a mother to his niece and nephew.

"Family by Design" could be criticized for being a bit predictable and overly sentimental.

Tucker and Rena's love for one another seem to come easily enough, though their situation is sometimes unrealistically challenging. Anything that could go wrong does go wrong, yet Justesen finds a way to make everything work out for the characters in her novel.

That aside, it is an enjoyable, uplifting read to which both those who are Mormon and not audiences can relate. There are some cultural references to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but nothing too hard to comprehend, and it is written in a way that is both tasteful and appropriate for all ages.

if you go ...

What: Heather Justesen book signing

When: Saturday, April 21, noon-2 p.m.

Where: Barnes and Noble, McIntyre Center, 1104 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City

Web: barnesandnoble.com

Also ...

What: "An Afternoon of Local Intrigue," including Heather Justesen book signing

When: Saturday, April 21, 3 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

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