Between Mom and Jo

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Between Mom and Jo Book Poster Image
Tender tale about a boy whose moms split up.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Families can use this book to discuss their own feeling about gay families and what legal rights they would extend to them, if any.

Positive Messages

Readers -- especially those who have seen their own parents split or divorce -- will especially relate to the a message here about learning to accept family as it changes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nick is a relatable character who cares deeply about both his mothers. He may not always act perfectly, but readers will understand how torn up he is and why he wants his old family back.


Not an issue.


Nick sees his mom in a long kiss; a babysitter asks if he has seen his moms having sex; some other general talk about sex, condoms, etc.


Nick gets called homophobic names; lots of other words like "Jesus," "hell," "crap."


Some junk food like KFC, Red Bull, Coke, Jell-O

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Not glamorized: Jo is an alcoholic who gets drunk and makes a scene at Nick's birthday.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book centers on a boy growing up with two moms. There is some heavy stuff: Jo is an alcoholic, Erin has breast cancer -- and then there is the main crisis: They split up, leaving Nick sad and angry (and Jo without any rights). There's some swearing, some mentions of junk food brands, and Nick has to deal with some harassment from his peers (and even one prejudiced teacher). Readers -- especially those who have seen their own parents split or divorce -- will especially relate to the a message here about learning to accept family as it changes.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Written byAnonymous March 12, 2015
Even though kids at school make fun of him for having two moms, Nick still manages to have a pretty happy childhood. When he turns 14, Erin and Jo decide to spl... Continue reading
Adult Written bymoviemadness April 9, 2008

Inspiring Tale

This book points out that the right way is not always immediately apparent. Jo, Mom, and Nick are all believable characters. There is a bit of iffy content ab... Continue reading

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What's the story?

Nick loves his practical birth mom, Erin, and her crude partner Jo, so when they split up, he feels torn in two. Especially when his mom refuses to let him see Jo, who has no legal rights to him.

Is it any good?

Told in flashbacks, this book will certainly give readers the sense of how much Nick loves both his mothers -- practical Erin, his birth mother, and her rather crude partner, Jo. They will also get a strong sense of how complicated the women are, especially Jo, who struggles with alcoholism. This is a book about a kid with gay parents, certainly. Nick not only endures teasing from his peers, he must deal with a prejudiced teacher. Also, when his moms break up, Jo is left without any legal rights to Nick. But more than anything, this is a book about a family that falls apart.

Like all families, they share many small moments together (eating watermelon in the backyard) and are there for each other in the big moments (dealing with Erin's breast cancer). The author's careful rendering of their memories -- complete with very real, fast-moving dialog -- makes it easy to understand why Nick is so devastated when they split. Readers will certainly empathize with Nick when he prays into the night, "Jo, please...Hear me. Come and get me. Give us back our life."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about other books and media about gay families. Do you think that these books are only helpful to kids like Nick growing up with gay parents -- or do kids with straight parents have something to gain from them too? 

  • Also, were you surprised by the harassment that Nick faced? Does that seem realistic given what you see at your own school?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love family stories

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