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Title Page

Copyright Page


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty


Margaret Ferguson Books

Copyright © 2021 by Katelyn Detweiler

All Rights Reserved

HOLIDAY HOUSE is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Printed and bound in March 2021 at Maple Press, York, PA, USA.

First Edition

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Detweiler, Katelyn, author.

Title: The people we choose / by Katelyn Detweiler.

Description: First edition. | New York : Holiday House, [2021] “A Margaret Ferguson Book.” | Audience: Ages 14 and up.

Audience: Grades 10–12. | Summary: Seventeen-year-old Calliope Silversmith’s lifelong friendships are transformed when she starts dating new neighbor, Max, but her life is turned upside-down when she learns the identity of the sperm donor her mothers chose.

Identifiers: LCCN 2020034226 | ISBN 9780823446643 (hardcover)

Subjects: CYAC: Best friends—Fiction. | Friendship—Fiction. Lesbian mothers—Fiction. | Identity—Fiction. Sperm donors—Fiction. | Families—Fiction.

Classification: LCC PZ7.1.D48 Peo 2021 | DDC [Fic]—dc23

LC record available at

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4664-3 (hardcover)

To Danny and alfie,

the people I will choose,

every day, always.

Chapter One

AT first I wonder if he’s a mirage.

The air certainly seems hot enough.

Rustling branches along the tree line, and then two legs, two arms, one head. The pieces come together to make a boy, and that boy walks across our wild grassy lawn and up to where I sit on the porch.

I put down my dog-eared copy of Sense and Sensibility to take him in. Long limbs and warm brown skin, black T-shirt and black cutoff jeans. His clothes are splattered in streaks of bright paint, golds and blues and reds and greens and purples, like he is the painting. He is the work of art.

I’m out here early today because I needed to breathe. Mama and Mimmy are firm believers in open windows and fans, even during the first heat wave of the summer. They only have air conditioners at Hot Mama Flow, their yoga studio—with aerobics classes and weight-machine circuits, too, because yoga isn’t popular enough to sustain an entire business in our small town of Green Woods, Pennsylvania. And even there they keep the AC off for most classes. “A little hot yoga is good for the soul,” Mama says, usually as she’s upside down, balancing on her hands, legs in a split, as if gravity is not an actual thing. And maybe for Mama it’s not.

“I was looking for some sign of life,” the boy says, his voice somehow deeply growly but sweetly musical at the same time. “I just moved in next door. If you can call it next door when there’s five minutes of woods between us. I mean, Jesus. How is this only an hour outside of Philly? I feel like I’m lost in some kind of West Virginia wilderness.”

I raise my eyebrows. He looks less art worthy now. And it’s really more like ninety minutes most days because of traffic, at least during rush hours, but I don’t correct him.

“So anyway,” he starts. Stops. Runs one hand through his tight-cropped curls. “Sorry. I’m Max. Should have started with that.”


“That’s an interesting name.”

“My moms are big on mythology.” I emphasize moms and say it like a challenge. It’s a hard habit to break, maybe because Green Woods still has some people clinging to the Dark Ages. But Max doesn’t react.

“That’s cool. I like it. I don’t actually know why my parents named me Max. My mom does love a good T.J.Maxx deal, but I hope that’s not the reason.”

“Uh-oh. The closest T.J.Maxx is a forty-minute drive from us. Will your mom survive out here? You can assure her we do get mail. Much faster since they ditched the horse and buggy last year. Mail trucks now, can you believe it?” I smile, kicking back in my midnight-colored rocking chair. Right between Mama’s sky-blue chair and Mimmy’s sunny-yellow one. The wooden slats of the porch floor creak. Our little stone house was built sometime in the early 1800s—or so the Realtor said when Mama and Mimmy bought it before I was born, and I believe it because every last piece of it feels old and persnickety.

Max squints up at me with dark amber eyes and laughs. “I get it. I was trash-talking your home before I even introduced myself. Not the best way to meet a new neighbor. My mom would tweak my ear for that one. So maybe don’t tell her?”

I shrug. I don’t love his attitude. But it’s not every day I get to meet someone who hasn’t spent their whole life here.

“Let’s start over,” he says, taking it upon himself to climb the porch steps. He sits on Mama’s chair, like it was put there just for him.

“I hope all that paint is dry. Mama will ruin you if you mess with her favorite chair.”

He looks down at his shorts. “Oh right. I was painting my bedroom walls this morning. I was just going to do normal boring gray on all of them, but then I had this vision of our apartment view, so I painted a mural of my old bedroom window and the scene outside it on one wall. We lived in the tallest building on our block, so I got a peek of the Philly skyline right when the sun comes up. That’s always my favorite time to paint.” He grins at me, bright white teeth with a small gap in the middle. It’s a really good smile.

“Why did you move here then? If you love Philly so much?”

The whole porch seems to shift around us with that one question. The good smile disappears.

“Family stuff,” he says. There is an extra-bold black period at the end of his sentence.

“I’m sorry,” I say, because I’m not sure what other response there is. “But Green

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