That’s what The Irresistible Henry House’s story is centered around. Henry House is a young baby brought from the orphanage and placed in a “practice” house at the University. He is raised over the period of a year by six practice mothers, each taking their turn for a week before the next steps in to take over. Meanwhile, they are all supervised by the instructor, a woman named Martha Gaines who does not have any children of her own.
Every child that comes into the program is named an H name. All are given the last name of “House”. Every child gets placed with a family after the practice mothers have completed the course. That is.. every child but Henry.
Henry remains with Martha, because she “loves” him. Henry grows up in the sterile environment of the practice house, surrounded by practice mothers and suffocated under Martha’s desire to possess him. He has his best friend, Mary Jane, and because of a childhood spat he affects her life in a shattering way.
I found it fascinating to read the story of his life. So surrounded by so many mothers, so many different types of “love”, all but a few regularly taken away from him. Seeing babies come and go as a child, getting attached and then seeing them taken away. Then, as an adult it’s no surprise how he treated women who came in and out of his life. His lack of respect for women was not at all surprising, but his journey through it and his ongoing friendship with Mary Jane was.
One thing I did not like about the book (although I understood it due to the analogies between his life and what he was doing), were the references to famous people. For being an uneducated jerk, Henry sure succeeds career-wise and it was just too far-fetched for me.
But otherwise it was a fascinating look at what the life of a “practice” baby could possibly be like.