Emma Donoghue brings back the beloved Lotterys, a diverse, loud and eclectic family living in Toronto. With two moms, two dads, a Grumps, seven children, a couch surfer and a host of pets, the life of a Lottery is never boring.
In The Lotterys More or Less, we visit the family at holiday time. PapaDum and Sic are both away in New Delhi and are supposed to be home for the holidays. Sumac has expertly written out all of the most important family traditions on a big calendar so they all remember where they are to be and when everything happens. When a huge ice storm messes up all the most important traditions and also strands PapaDum and Sic in India, some Lotterys can go with the flow and others have a very difficult time with the change of plans. It’s a lovely story about family, traditions, caretaking, and flexibility.
The Lotterys are a very real family. Emma Donoghue reflects an immense amount of diversity in the characters of the story. The diversity does not become the main focus of the story. These characters are not idealized, they come across as very authentic. One of my favourite parts is when Sumac, Aspen and MaxiMum are at the Warming Centre and they are speaking about how MaxiMum is a Buddhist. When Sumac wonders why MaxiMum is planning on meditating in the middle of the Warming Centre MaxiMum says, “...if I didn’t have my practice, I just might slaughter you all.” As a parent, it gave me a really good chuckle as I feel the same way about my yoga practice. I totally connected with MaxiMum and the feelings many Moms experience, why we need our time to ourselves to recharge and regroup. Just as with the first Lottery title I was struck at how mean Catalpa and Aspen are written, but again, isn’t that so very real. Everyone experiences strife with their siblings, it’s all part of growing up all together in each other’s spaces at times, we can just get snippy with each other. What a great window/mirror for other children having the same kinds of experiences with their siblings. The Lotterys are not idealized, they are a family just like yours and mine, full of love and at times annoyance.
I truly connected with the story on two levels. In my adult life as a parent raising a young family, I connect with the parents in the story. My younger self also really connected with Sumach and her experience as one child in a big family. There is something for everyone in The Lotterys More or Less and I sincerely hope Emma Donoghue has a few more Lottery stories to share with the world.