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The Martian Child: A Novel About A Single Father Adopting A Son    by David Gerrold order for
Martian Child
by David Gerrold
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

David Gerrold's at times funny, but more often poignant The Martian Child is the 'basis for the major motion picture from New Line Cinema - starring John Cusack'. The protagonist is a single gay man who wants to adopt a child and 'to make a difference.' The one who touches his heart has many issues, including the fact that he's announced to case workers that he 'thinks he's a Martian.'

This eight-year-old, hyperactive boy was born to an alcoholic, was badly abused in two of his foster placements, and is 'diagnosed as severely emotionally disturbed.' Regarding his claim to be from Mars, Gerrold tells caseworkers, 'After everything this little guy has been through, if he wants to think he's a Martian, I'm not going to argue with him.' The adoption is approved, leaving the man to learn how to parent a Martian and the boy to learn how to trust an adult.

David Gerrold's account of the challenges the duo faced - and eventually surmounted together - is at once heartwarming and heartbreaking, yet with many amusing aspects to it. But what I enjoyed just as much as the story itself was Gerrold's descriptions of the writing life, as when he elaborates on this comment: 'See, this is the thing about writing - about being a writer. You have to believe in it first. Because, if you don't believe in it, no one else will. So you learn to do the Red Queen's trick, and you practice believing six impossible things before breakfast', concluding 'Writers build their own realities, move into them, and occasionally send letters home.'

The book is based on a true story - in his blog, David Gerrold writes, 'The story I wrote was about the moment I discovered how much I really love my son' and that love - and the willingness to go countless extra miles in its name - shines through The Martian Child.

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