Only Child

Edited by Deborah Siegel and Daphne Uviller

What is it really like to be an only child?

In this insightful and entertaining collection, writers including Judith Thurman, Kathryn Harrison, John Hodgman, and Peter Ho Davies reflect on a lifetime of being an only. They describe what it’s like to be an only child of divorce, an only because of the death of a sibling, an only who reveled in it, or an only who didn’t. As adults searching for partners, they are faced with the unique challenge of trying to turn their family units of three into units of four, and as they watch their parents age, they come face-to-face with the onus of being their families’ sole historians.

Whether you’re an only child, the partner or spouse of an only, a parent pondering whether to stop at one, or a curious sibling, Only Child offers a look behind the scenes and into the hearts of twenty-one smart and sensitive writers as they reveal the truth about growing up–and being a grown-up–solo.

I’m the parent of an only child, and these passionate, bittersweet, and warmly funny portraits of the small American family helped affirm my choice. May it do the same for you, whatever your choice may be.
— Neal Pollack, author of Alternadad
In a culture that obsesses over every conceivable determinant of identity, from marital status to soft drink preference, a person’s ‘singleton’ status often goes unexamined. We ponder, needle, and envy ‘onlys,’ woefully unable to articulate whether and how their childhood circumstances contributed to who they are. Finally, it seems, 21 acclaimed writers have taken on that challenging task. These essays promise to entertain—and answer—questions asked by every generation of parents and children; questions that today’s children will soon be asking in record numbers. I eagerly await the publication of Only Child.
— Kaja Perina, Editor-in-Chief, Psychology Today