Felicia and Edgar meet as their mothers are dying. Felicia, a teen from an island nation, and Edgar, the lazy heir of a wealthy German family, come together only because their mothers share a hospital room. When Felicia's mother dies and Edgar's "Mutter" does not, Felicia drops out of high school and takes a job as Mutter's caregiver. While Felicia and Edgar don't quite understand each other, and Felicia recognizes that Edgar is selfish, arrogant, and often unkind, they form a bond built on grief (and proximity) that results in the birth of a son Felicia calls Armistice. Or Army, for short.
Some years later, Felicia and Army (now 14) are living in the basement of a home owned by Oliver, a divorced man of Portuguese descent who has two kids — the teenaged Heather and the odd little Hendrix. Along with Felicia and Army, they form an unconventional family, except that Army wants to sleep with Heather, and Oliver wants to kill Army. Then Army's fascination with his absent father — and his absent father's money — begins to grow as odd gifts from Edgar begin to show up. And Felicia feels Edgar's unwelcome shadow looming over them. A brutal assault, a mortal disease, a death, and a birth reshuffle this group of people again to form another version of the family.
Reproduction is a profoundly insightful exploration of the bizarre ways people become bonded that insists that family isn't a matter of blood. (From Random House Canada)
Reproduction is on the shortlist for the 2019 Amazon Canada First Novel Award.
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"It's about a number of different lives and people and the ripple effect that happens.
I wanted the book to have a soft impression of people's lives, like a thumbprint.- Ian Williams
"I wanted to write a book that would reproduce itself and I went about that a few different ways. When I'm writing poetry, I print my poems up and stick them on the wall — and I sort of wallpaper my place. When I'm writing prose, there's a bit more back and forth involved.
"I wanted the book to have a soft impression of people's lives, like a thumbprint. Edgar would always press his thumb into Felicia's forehead as a gesture. And I wanted the book just feel like pressing someone lovingly on the forehead."