Blonde, blue-eyed Dana Clarke seemingly has it all: Hugh, the handsome, rich attorney husband who adores her; a baby girl due any minute; a loving grandmother who raised her; and the warm support of many friends at her grandmother's knitting shop.

The only clouds in Dana's picture-perfect life are her in-laws. The Clarkes are an old, illustrious New England family who can trace their lineage back to the Mayflower. Dana's father-in-law is a well-respected author who has written best-selling books on the Clarke family history. Not only is Dana not a blue-blooded New Englander, she doesn't even know much about her father and this is not the heritage the Clarkes envisioned for their grandchildren.

When Dana's adorable daughter Lizzie is born with obvious African-American features, her world is shattered. The uptight in-laws are horrified; her husband becomes distant and tentative to both Dana and Lizzie, and people jump to the conclusion that Dana had an affair with her African-American neighbor, who is Hugh's best friend.

The gamut of reactions to Lizzie's appearance may be uncomfortable to read at times, in particular self-proclaimed liberal Hugh's uncertainty, but it seems realistic. And while Dana's placidity and years of little interest in her family history is unusual, she remains a compelling and likeable character.

Loyal readers who have followed Barbara Delinsky's writing for many years, from romance novels to women's fiction, will not be surprised at the depth of characterization in Family Tree. Delinsky's latest is well suited for fans of the serious themed books of Jodi Picoult, Anita Shreve and Jacquelyn Mitchard. In fact, Family Tree includes a Reading Group Companion for book clubs.

Full of complex and fascinating family dynamics as its characters are forced to come to terms with issues such as faith, race and loyalty, Family Tree is thought-provoking and memorable. After 26 years of publishing and 19 New York Times bestsellers, Delinsky will be discovered by a new generation of readers. Dedra Anderson writes from Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

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