Two Mums and a Dad By Toby Roberts

(2 customer reviews)


Sydney’s leafy northern suburbs were a bastion of Christian conservatism in the 1970s, but the Roberts family was always a little different. If having lots of children, pets and parties made them stick out, then a mum with a procession of live-in lovers had the neighbours wondering if this mob had mistaken Beecroft for Lesbos.

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‘A hilarious coming of age story about surviving a sexually liberated mother in a hippie human zoo. Beyond the comedy, this is also a tender telling, and a valuable record of a time when same sex parenting was shocking’? – Caroline Baum, author Only

This delightful coming of age memoir explores the angst of puberty, school, sport and bad 80s fashion. Beneath the humour and quirky characters, reminiscent of Netflix’s Sex Education series and just as awkwardly funny, lies a deeper reminder of the human need to pursue more authentic lives, and the capacity for people to surprise us by accepting love in all its forms.

Over time, the bravery and decency of Toby’s two mums wins admirers and supporters in unlikely places, from rugby-playing school boys to deeply religious stay-at-home mums. Even Toby learns to see the value in his embarrassing childhood…

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Two Mums and a Dad

2 reviews for Two Mums and a Dad By Toby Roberts

  1. Scott Whitmont

    Navigating adolescence, new schools, emerging sexual urges, relations with the opposite sex and ‘fitting in’ with a crowd of peers can be challenging at the best of times for most young boys. However, when you feel like a geeky nerd who looks like “an undernourished chihuahua”, your mother emerges to be a feminist lesbian and you go to a conservative Anglican school, the challenge of being accepted might feel particularly overwhelming!
    This was the case for young Toby Roberts whose new memoir of the 1980s reveals the plight he and his three siblings faced whilst watching their parent’s marriage unravel and their mother’s girlfriends move in to radically change the family dynamic and the pubescent boy’s view of what is normal.
    In this unconventional setting, Toby forges ahead experimenting with drugs, sex and rock ‘n roll. On the side, he plays in a youth orchestra. When attending his first football training session, taking up the sport in a futile attempt to impress girls, he rather embarrassingly replies to the coach’s question, “What do you play?” with “The violin, Sir”.
    With bathos and laugh-out-loud humour, Roberts self-deprecatingly recounts his youthful peccadilloes and misadventures along with more serious issues such as his father’s alcohol consumption and sometime violence. Think of him as a kind of Aussie-version mix between David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs.
    Two Mums and a Dad is a tender, thoughtful true tale which will make you think deeply about school, family and love, about acceptance and peer pressures, about sexuality and puberty. And as you contemplate such life issues affecting us all, you’ll be thoroughly entertained and experience the very best of mirth.

  2. Peter Gifford

    Growing up in roughly the same area of Sydney suburbia as Toby did, and with divorcing parents, at a young age I used to bicycle past the doorways of the perfect houses and wonder what was really going on behind them. Much more than I imagined, it turns out! Despite knowing the older brother at the time, I had no idea of the fascinating, complex, bohemian life the Roberts clan lived. Toby took me back to those days in a very entertaining book full of funny, deftly sketched anecdotes written with great sensitivity. ‘Two Mums and a Dad’ made me laugh out loud as I rode the rollercoaster of his unconventional experiences growing up, but the author’s fundamental affection for human foibles (including his own), and his subtle reflections on how complex personalities navigated a suburban life, very much make you feel part of the family.

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