Becoming the Butlers
My father liked to say that George and my mother reminded him of a bad joke told by a fat Catskills comic. “My wife went off with the super, but my toilet now works. My super was super at unplugging our sink and plugging my wife. If I had only called Roto Rooter instead. At least that’s one less tip at Christmas.” And so on.
When Rachel Harris’s mother runs off to Spain with the super of their New York City apartment building, Rachel’s life takes a bizarre turn. Her eccentric father becomes obsessed with George Vasquez, the man who stole his wife: He wears George’s clothes, he shaves with his razor, and to top it off, he moves George’s family into their apartment. The poignant and often funny journey Rachel and her father take to Madrid to hunt down her mother further cements her desire to shake her more than unusual family situation and find a new identity.
And who has a more perfect life than Olivia and Edwin Butler? So gorgeous and popular, they don’t really have friends, just hangers-on. And though Rachel doesn’t remember ever having spoken a word to them, her resolve becomes clear: She must find a way into the Butlers’ home and into their family.
In this marvelously compassionate first novel, Pamela Brandt [Penny Brandt Jackson] depicts a young girl’s search for family—and her discovery that family is a state of mind.
Bantam New Fiction, October 1990.