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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,666 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Diana Welch, Liz Welch, Amanda Welch, Dan Welch Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2009 ISBN: 9780307712394
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“Perfect is boring.”

Well, 1983 certainly wasn’t boring for the Welch family. Somehow, between their handsome father’s mysterious death, their glamorous soap-opera-star mother’s cancer diagnosis, and a phalanx of lawyers intent on bankruptcy proceedings, the four Welch siblings managed to handle each new heartbreaking misfortune in the same way they dealt with the unexpected arrival of the forgotten-about Chilean exchange student–together.

All that changed with the death of their mother. While nineteen-year-old Amanda was legally on her own, the three younger siblings–Liz, sixteen; Dan, fourteen; and Diana, eight–were each dispatched to a different set of family friends. Quick-witted and sharp-tongued, Amanda headed for college in New York City and immersed herself in an ’80s world of alternative music and drugs. Liz, living with the couple for whom she babysat, followed in Amanda’s footsteps until high school graduation when she took a job in Norway as a nanny. Mischievous, rebellious Dan, bounced from guardian to boarding school and back again, getting deeper into trouble and drugs. And Diana, the red-haired baby of the family, was given a new life and identity and told to forget her past. But Diana’s siblings refused to forget her–or let her go.

Told in the alternating voices of the four siblings, their poignant, harrowing story of un­breakable bonds unfolds with ferocious emotion. Despite the Welch children’s wrenching loss and subsequent separation, they retained the resilience and humor that both their mother and father endowed them with–growing up as lost souls, taking disastrous turns along the way, but eventually coming out right side up. The kids are not only all right; they’re back together.

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Quotes & Awards

  • The Kids Are All Right–ingenious, heartfelt, prismatic–is funny and painful in its chronicling of how the chaos of 'normal' childhood can transform into something frighteningly free-form. Here, despite the milieu of privilege (and sometimes because of it), there is hardly the thinnest of buffers as reality at large begins its assault. Each member of this wry, self-deprecating gang recounts his or her story of survival in a way that bumps up against, amplifies, harmonizes with, and even contradicts the others'. Theirs is the fierce and complex love of siblings, and their clear-eyed choral storytelling is a revelation. Daphne Beal, author of In the Land of No Right Angles
  • “Well-crafted and beautifully written, not to mention tremendously engrossing and moving. I couldn’t put it down and came to love and respect every member of this singular family.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • A Best Book of 2009, Salon.com
     
  • THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT reinvents the genre. It's a choral book, with the point of view shifting between four siblings -- Amanda, Liz, Dan and Diana Welch -- who recount, and disagree about, the disintegration of their family. After their father's sudden death in a car crash comes their mother's slow death from cancer, and then the narrative explodes into pure bedlam: children on their own! The setting is suburban New York and Manhattan, and the time is the '80s, in all their forgotten glory -- no clichés, just detail after detail that eerily reconjured my own childhood in cars, TV, music, products, as I'd long since forgotten it. This is a memoir that always feels alive and true, and one that exists for no other reason than that the story needed to be told. Sean Wilsey, contributor to Salon.com and author of Oh the Glory of It All
  • A blisteringly funny, heart-scorching tale of remarkable kids shattered by tragedy and finally brought back together by love. People
  • Well crafted and beautifully written, not to mention tremendously engrossing and moving. I couldn't put it down and came to love and respect every member of this singular family. O, the Oprah Magazine
  • The Welch kids grew up like secret agents. Orphans and adventurers in Reagan's ' 80s, young Amanda, Liz, Dan, and Diana were everywhere and nowhere: bluffing their way into nightclubs (when they shouldn't even have been driving), doing homework without a home, making out with rock stars, and then making each other breakfast, lunch, dinner–because who else was there to do it? This is a tragic and heroic story that precisely maps a decade and reads like a spy thriller. The Welch kids are legendary! Sean Wilsey, author of Oh the Glory of It All
  • After the suspicious demise of dad and loss of mom to cancer, the orphaned Welch children were split up; now grown, and in rocking chorus, Diana, Liz, Amanda, and Dan Welch explain how in the world The Kids Are All Right. Vanity Fair
     
  • THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT hooks reader's attention from the first jarring sentence and doesn't let go until the very last poignant moment. This memoir reads like a fictional narrative, and readers may find themselves unable to put it down, enthralled as if it were a page-turning murder mystery. The Daily Texan
     
  • This touching, funny memoir…is an ode to the strength of sibling bonds Cookie Magazine
     
  • This frank, wry, aching memoir…will leave readers musing over memory's slippery nature; the imperfect, enduring bonds of family; and the human heart's remarkable resilience. Booklist
  • A brutally honest book that captures the journey of four people too young to face the challenged they nevertheless had to face. Kirkus
  • The Welch family's multivocal story is impossible to put down. I read The Kids Are All Right with awe at the resilience and hope a family can manage in the aftermath of unthinkable loss. The intelligence and strength of the Welch kids confirmed my belief that anything is possible when brothers and sisters come out of tragedy together. Danielle Trussoni, author of Falling Through the Earth
  • Told with humor, compassion, and humility, and teeming with priceless '80s references, this story of parentless children learning to parent each other grabbed hold of my heart (and attention) and refused to let go. Don't start reading The Kids Are All Right, as I did, at 10 p.m., or you'll lose a night of sleep. Heidi Julavits, author of The Uses of Enchantment
  • “A blisteringly funny, heart-scorching tale of remarkable kids shattered by tragedy and finally brought back together by love.”

    People

  • “After the suspicious demise of dad and loss of mom to cancer, the orphaned Welch children were split up; now grown, and in rocking chorus, Diana, Liz, Amanda, and Dan Welch explain how in the world The Kids Are All Right.”

    Vanity Fair

  • “A brutally honest book that captures the journey of four people too young to face the challenged they nevertheless had to face.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “This frank, wry, aching memoir…will leave readers musing over memory’s slippery nature; the imperfect, enduring bonds of family; and the human heart’s remarkable resilience.”

    Booklist

  • “The Welch family’s multivocal story is impossible to put down. I read The Kids Are All Right with awe at the resilience and hope a family can manage in the aftermath of unthinkable loss. The intelligence and strength of the Welch kids confirmed my belief that anything is possible when brothers and sisters come out of tragedy together.”

    Danielle Trussoni, author of Falling Through the Earth

  • “Told with humor, compassion, and humility, and teeming with priceless 80s references, this story of parentless children learning to parent each other grabbed hold of my heart (and attention) and refused to let go. Don’t start reading The Kids Are All Right, as I did, at 10 p.m., or you’ll lose a night of sleep.”

    Heidi Julavits, author of The Uses of Enchantment

  • The Kids Are All Right—ingenious, heartfelt, prismatic—is funny and painful in its chronicling of how the chaos of ‘normal’ childhood can transform into something frighteningly free-form. Here, despite the milieu of privilege (and sometimes because of it), there is hardly the thinnest of buffers as reality at large begins its assault. Each member of this wry, self-deprecating gang recounts his or her story of survival in a way that bumps up against, amplifies, harmonizes with, and even contradicts the others’. Theirs is the fierce and complex love of siblings, and their clear-eyed choral storytelling is a revelation.”

    Daphne Beal, author of In the Land of No Right Angles

  • Winner of the 2010 YALSA Alex Award
  • A 2009 Salon Magazine Best Book of the Year
  • Winner of Alex Award - YALSA, 2010

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amanda | 2/11/2014

    " I liked this one a lot, but I wasn't crazy about how they handled the rotating narration. A bit confusing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jodi | 2/11/2014

    " a damn fine memoir. damn fine, i tell ya. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 2/6/2014

    " I liked the family in this book and their strength as they lived through some tragic times. I also liked the 80's references. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael Ferguson | 2/6/2014

    " Interesting memoir, worth the read. Good storytelling. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy | 1/7/2014

    " I really liked this book. I read it very quickly because I couldn't wait to read the next short chapter. I left this book at my sisters before finishing and as soon as I got home, i went to the book store to finish it. I had to read the last chapters. this is not the same book as the movie by the same name. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy | 12/31/2013

    " Please, read this book. It's an autobiography written from 4 different points of view and the storytelling is amazing, as is the story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hannah | 12/24/2013

    " Loved it! And love Grubby Girl! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather | 12/21/2013

    " This book has nothing to do with the movie by the same name. It reminded me a lot of Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle. I loved that each chapter was told from the perspective of one of the four siblings. What a great family...I truly enjoyed this book tremendously. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danaca | 12/15/2013

    " I liked this memoir almost as much as The Glass House. It is written by all 4 of the kids who went to live with different families after both parents died. Seeing the difference in perspective and interpretation of the same events by 4 different people was very intriguing. Fascinating lives lead. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Debra | 11/28/2013

    " An honest, heartbreaking, compelling book that I hated to finish. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cassie | 11/24/2013

    " I kept waiting for them to be "all right," but their story never seemed to get to that positive place that I thought they deserved. I guess nonfiction can be that way. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cindy | 11/24/2013

    " Recommended. Easy to read. Interesting look at a family struggling to stay together despite barriers. Life age and stage influences perceptions of significant events. An interesting activity within my own family would be to identify an event and ask everyone to write what they remember about it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anne | 11/21/2013

    " How four children survived losing both parents while young is amazing. And they turned out alright. They got together and shared their lives in this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne | 11/9/2013

    " Mary McCarthy meets V.C. Andrews. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jessi Lauer | 9/13/2013

    " The book kept my attention while the parents were still alive, although the writing style of half the kids bothered me. The remaining third of the book was tiresome. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carol | 7/11/2013

    " It was OK for awhile, then just became tedious... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy | 12/3/2012

    " That I have to be so thankful for the life I have led to this point. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Colleen | 12/25/2011

    " Funny, sad, honest, and sometimes perplexing, this book follows the Welch children as they navigate the very difficult waters of losing one and then another parent. Engaging, but not for the faint of heart. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tamar | 12/9/2011

    " Engaging read about 4 siblings whose father, then mother dies, leaving them destitute and split up into different homes until they reunite as adults, each having lived through a lot. I recommend it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer Reininger | 12/7/2011

    " I did like this book. The story of these kids is pretty amazing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 ✌Kara | 9/9/2011

    " This was an OK memoir. Its was an interesting perspective to get from all of the Welch kids. Very sad. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jill | 5/9/2011

    " It's a true story about four siblings who face separation from each other after both of their parents die. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather | 4/7/2011

    " This book has nothing to do with the movie by the same name. It reminded me a lot of Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle. I loved that each chapter was told from the perspective of one of the four siblings. What a great family...I truly enjoyed this book tremendously. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laurie | 3/22/2011

    " Wow. What a great story of resilience. These kids lost both of their parents when they were still kids and this book tells that story and how the each managed the loss and resulting separation from each other. Well written. Highly recommended. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stefanie | 3/6/2011

    " This book was not at all what I expected. That being said, it was overall an interesting look into the window of a family that was orphaned but still determined to stay together. No real surprises or plot twists, this book is straight memoir and ended as one would have hoped. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 2/21/2011

    " I did like this book. The story of these kids is pretty amazing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erica | 2/6/2011

    " Loved it. Four perspectives of four siblings during a horrible time. And their reconsicle and recovery. Perfect read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lola | 2/3/2011

    " Extremely easy reading; dad dies in car accident, mom dies of cancer; 4 kids separated & all living at different places, all feeling lost. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tiffany | 1/25/2011

    " Really liked this book, but am bummed to find out that it is not the plot the movie is based on. The guy at Half Priced Books didn't know what he was talking about! "

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About the Author
Diana Welch is a reporter for the Austin Chronicle.