What Makes a Family | BookishFirst

What Makes a Family

filled star filled star filled star filled star star unfilled
amym0403 Avatar


Sixteen years ago while visiting an uncle he never knew existed, Will Sterling - waiting outside while his mother and uncle fought inside - was captivated by the voice of a girl his age. It was a perfect moment that's stayed with Will throughout many more imperfect ones that came after in his life.

Unexpectedly brought back to the apartment complex after his uncle leaves it to him in his will, Will is caught again by that same voice. Only this time, he also has a name: Nora Clarke. But Will has no plans to live in the apartment, instead he wants to fix it up and sublet it out.

Nora has such fond memories of the apartment complex. She used to visit her grandmother there every summer and it was the one constant in a life often full of surprising unknowns. The apartment and the other people who live in the complex are her family. While she's immediately drawn to Will Sterling, she can not get behind his ideas for changing or sprucing up the place.

What ensues is a back-and-forth game to get the other person to admit defeat. Ultimately what happens is Will and Nora are drawn closer and closer to each other to the point that they'll each have to decide if they can let go of the past enough to find true happiness.

I was really drawn into this story by the premise. Of those often simple and sometimes seemingly insignificant moments in your life the just stay with you. I think we all have them. As far as meet cutes go I think this is a really sweet one.

The idea of Will and Nora being instantly drawn to one another, yet finding out they don't see eye to eye in regards to the apartment complex, just brings to the forefront their own insecurities. So as they challenge one another - Nora trying to keep Will from changing the complex, seeing the beauty in what is already there and Will showing Nora that change doesn't have to be a bad thing - do you begin to see where the other needs to get in order for them to move forward with a relationship. I like how neither character is right or wrong in their overall assumptions, they just have to personally take the leap for themselves. It's very internal processing on their parts I feel, but the plus side is getting to be with someone who truly understands where you come from. Seeing Will and Nora get to that point, or seeing IF they can get to that point is worth the entire read of the book.

I kind of like the ambiguity of the conflict between Nora and Will. If you really sit and think about it, the conflict is silly to say the least. From the outside it's silly. But that's when you think about people's feelings on the inside and how you trace these feelings back to their source that you find the true conflict of it all.

Will grew up with parents who were more focused on each other than they were on raising Will. Nora, too, grew up with parents who were more work focused than they were in raising their daughter. Whereas Will learned to become self-sufficient, Nora did have her grandmother's love to fall into, and losing that makes her want to cling to the things she familiar with, not to let that change happen. Whereas Will wants nothing that he can associate with the past. He's always trying to look forward but in doing so he can miss the things that are right in front of him.

The other families in the apartment complex are like a secondary character treasure trove. I love the camaraderie that they all have with one another, and I like that they are all so close. It almost feels like a bygone era. It's been quite a while since I've lived in an apartment myself, but I was never super close with my neighbors. I knew who they were of course, would give a nice hello in the hall, but that was it. I love how these people have all become extended family. And I like good family, they love to be up in everyone's business :)

Overall, I really enjoyed this read. I loved the ease in which I could slip into the story. I haven't read all of Kate Clayborn's previous books, but I'm thinking I need to fix that soon!