Ashley Nelson Levi's unflinching debut novel, Immediate Family, puts a fresh and culturally relevant spin on the theme of adoption in literature ... Nuanced and generously rendered, Levy’s novel brings up issues—such as infertility, bullying, overt and subtle forms of racism, addiction, language barriers, and cultural misunderstandings—that often characterize the real experience of adoption but, for some reason, rarely find their place in literary portrayals. The result is a unique, gorgeously textured narrative that explores the boundaries of familial love ... Because both transracial and transnational adoption are at work in the novel, this aside speaks directly to the drama of the main plot. There is, however, a downside to these digressions: though always informative and often delightful, the passages may slow the reader’s momentum. Yet, to Levy’s credit, they never fail to feed back into the story in illuminating ways ... At the heart of this conflict is the narrator’s infertility. Some of the richest moments in the novel are rooted in this narrative thread ... Boldly embracing life’s entanglements, Levy’s novel is a work of powerful, life-affirming generosity.
The book’s general hum of infuriation is apt. But the most memorable passages in Immediate Family are the funny parts ... When the book’s chronic exasperation gives way to affection and hilarity, it’s as if somebody has thrown all the windows open ... It reads like a long personal essay, with some of the tics of the genre, such as the semi-digested chunks of research that occasionally bob up.
[A] wrenching debut ... Powerful vignettes, such as memories of Danny being bullied as a child for looking different, blend with musings about the history of transracial adoption, Victorian literature, and famous adoptees. It’s no small feat that Levy manages to hold all of these elements in the frame of the speech ... This exhibits a delicate touch while unpacking a complicated relationship, yielding much emotional insight.