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Sydney’s leafy northern suburbs were a bastion of Christian conservatism in the 1970s, but the Roberts family was always a little different. If having lots of children, pets and parties made them stick out, then a mum with a procession of live-in lovers had the neighbours wondering if this mob had mistaken Beecroft for Lesbos.
Despite the climate of the times, Toby’s parents were able to reach a very bohemian understanding – his dancer mother was free to find love in the arms of younger women, while his doctor father was free to drink and pretend it wasn’t happening.
Growing up a middle child of four, Toby loved his mother’s girlfriends as if they were older siblings. But when his mum fell for Caro, everything changed. It’s hard enough when your mum and dad divorce, and you move into a new home with two mums – harder still, when one of those mums challenges your masculinity by flogging you in tennis and lifting weights that would give you a hernia.
To make matters worse, Toby had just started high school at a Christian college where Mum’s spiky hair and long trousers weren’t welcome.
The usual insecurities about finding acceptance in high school go up a notch or two when you’re a weedy violinist and your two mothers keep kissing in public.
This delightful coming of age memoir explores the angst of puberty, school, sport and bad 80s fashion. Beneath the humour and quirky characters, reminiscent of Netflix’s Sex Education series and just as awkwardly funny, lies a deeper reminder of the human need to pursue more authentic lives, and the capacity for people to surprise us by accepting love in all its forms.
Over time, the bravery and decency of Toby’s two mums wins admirers and supporters in unlikely places, from rugby-playing school boys to deeply religious stay-at-home mums. Even Toby learns to see the value in his embarrassing childhood…
Author: Toby Roberts
Paperback Published 1 June 2021