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Merry’s Brood by William L. Hewitt

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Merry’s Brood, collected and organized by William L. Hewitt, is an anthology of stories proffered by five siblings separated at early ages by the heart-rending troubles of divorce, adoption, and poverty. Lewitt himself is one of these siblings, with “Merry” being the mother of the set. Early chapters delve into the lives Merry’s parents, as well as the beginning of Merry’s brood itself. A whole chapter is dedicated to each sibling who narrates their story with a profound honesty, communicating difficult and oftentimes violent truths about their upbringing. Hewitt meshes historical context with emotional revelations and philosophical ideals in his personally written sections, drawing the puzzle pieces together into a whole discernible image of Merry’s brood and their many struggles.

Hewitt seeks, through Merry’s Brood, to honor the wish of his mother- the wish to share the family’s stories, and to preserve their significance and clarity while accurate facts could still be told and recorded. In this goal, Hewitt undoubtedly succeeds. However, the structure of the first person narratives can quickly become confusing for readers. It is unclear at times who the speaker is, and there are not enough clear delineations between the siblings in the beginning in order to establish each personality as separate and individual. Despite this, having multiple voices offering personal viewpoints is a huge boon to the text, giving each of the siblings the chance to tell the story their way and through their eyes. Merry’s Brood stands as a valuable historical and cultural artifact of an American family divided and, years and years later, reunited, and their subsequent distinct story lines.