This is another book I have been interested in and am glad I took the time to read. Grunwald begins her story in 1946 when Henry House, a newborn, is taken in by a college home economics program where he is the practice baby for a class of young college girls. Henry is not the first practice baby that has come to the college, but he is the first who gets to stay after Martha, the home economics teacher is unable to let Henry go. We follow Henry through his childhood at the college where he is adored by many students and Martha. When Henry discovers who his biological mother is, he is unable to connect with Martha anymore and begins a troubled adolescence characterized by selective muteness. The novel continues through the decades with Henry growing into adulthood and eventually making his own way in the world. While the times, they are a changing, Martha's love for Henry remains constant as does Henry's need for acceptance by his mother, and the connection he feels for his childhood friend, Mary Jane.
While Grunwald's ending was not a surprise, I felt this novel was wrapped up nicely without too much predictability, and a resolution that was entirely believable.
Grunwald's idea for the novel came from a photograph of an infant used as a practice baby at Cornell University, and her ability to explore this little known method of study in home economics was intriguing to me.
This is a great book and would be an interesting book club selection with plenty to discuss.