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Everybody's Son ➱ [Read] ➬ Everybody's Son By Thrity Umrigar ➼ – Thomashillier.co.uk The bestselling, critically acclaimed author of The Space Between Us and The World We Found deftly explores issues of race, class, privilege, and power and asks us to consider uncomfortable moral ques The bestselling, critically acclaimed author of The Space Between Us and The World We Found deftly explores issues of race, class, privilege, and power and asks us to consider uncomfortable moral questions in this probing, ambitious, emotionally wrenching novel of two families one black, one whiteDuring a terrible heat wave inthe worst in a decade ten year old Anton has been locked in an apartment in the projects, alone, for seven days, without air conditioning or a fan With no electricity, the refrigerator and lights do not work Hot, hungry, and desperate, Anton shatters a window and climbs out Cutting his leg on the broken glass, he is covered in blood when the police find himJuanita, his mother, is discovered in a crack house less than three blocks away, nearly unconscious and half naked When she comes to, she repeatedly asks for her baby boy She never meant to leave Anton she went out for a quick hit and was headed right back, until her drug dealer raped her and kept her high Though the bond between mother and son is extremely strong, Anton is placed with child services while Juanita goes to jailThe Harvard educated son of a US senator, Judge David Coleman is a scion of northeastern white privilege Desperate to have a child in the house again after the tragic death of his teenage son, David uses his power and connections to keep his new foster son, Anton, with him and his wife, Delores actions that will have devastating consequences in the years to comeFollowing in his adopted family s footsteps, Anton, too, rises within the establishment But when he discovers the truth about his life, his birth mother, and his adopted parents, this man of the law must come to terms with the moral complexities of crimes committed by the people he loves most.


About the Author: Thrity Umrigar

A journalist for seventeen years, Thrity Umrigar has written for the Washington Post, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and other national newspapers, and contributes regularly to the Boston Globe s book pages Thrity is the winner of the Cleveland Arts Prize, a Lambda Literary award and the Seth Rosenberg prize She teaches creative writing and literature at Case Western Reserve University The author of The Space Between Us, Bombay Time, and the memoir First Darling of the Morning Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood, she was a winner of the Nieman Fellowship to Harvard University She has a PhD in English and lives in Cleveland, Ohio from the publisher s website.



10 thoughts on “Everybody's Son

  1. Will Byrnes Will Byrnes says:

    David Coleman has a heavy weight to bear His son, James, was killed in an auto accident on prom night James was destined to carry on the family name and business David is a judge, and his father, here referred to as Pappy, was a long time US Senator After maybe too short a time, David seeks to fill the large gap James left by taking in a foster child Nine year old Anton Vesper is having problems of his own He d been left alone before in the projects apartment he shared with his mother, but David Coleman has a heavy weight to bear His son, James, was killed in an auto accident on prom night James was destined to carry on the family name and business David is a judge, and his father, here referred to as Pappy, was a long time US Senator After maybe too short a time, David seeks to fill the large gap James left by taking in a foster child Nine year old Anton Vesper is having problems of his own He d been left alone before in the projects apartment he shared with his mother, but this time was different, longer, for example, seven days, and hotter, with temperatures in the 90s The power had been shut off as well, and the front door was locked from the outside Desperate, he breaks a window to get out and go looking for his mother, Juanita He calls her Mam Cutting his leg on broken window glass, his bleeding gains the interest of a cop Mam is found at a crack den, where she had essentially been held prisoner by her dealer She is charged with child abandonment and Anton becomes a ward of the state Thrity Umrigar from ArtsAtl.comWhen David meets Anton, he is smitten, in a parental way He wants to help the boy, and maybe fill the large hole in his heart at the same time This is a scenario Umrigar has worked with in the past In The Weight of Heaven, a man is bereft at the loss of his seven year old son, and transfers those feelings onto the son of his housekeeper Complications ensue, as they do here In both cases white adults engage with a child of color Indian in The Weight of Heaven and black in this one David becomes increasingly attached to young Anton, and is eager to extend his time with him Connections are used Harshness is doled out to Anton s mother, and David gets what he wants Later, he engages in a particularly underhanded and cruel act to ensure that Anton would be allowed to stay with him permanently How long can a building constructed on a corrupt foundation stand What results when good intentions turn bad There are supporting characters in Everybody s Son, but the focus is on Anton and secondarily, David Anton grows up in a very privileged white household, one in which he is encouraged, supported, and challenged He struggles initially, but in short order he is brought up to speed in his school, gains a welcoming friend and thrives After this, he does not really have to cope much with racial identity issues until college, when he meets and falls hard for a strong, opinionated black woman who challenges all his beliefs I suppose one could look at this as a questioning of the impact of nature vs nurture What sort of life might Anton have had, had he been returned to his crack addicted mother No brainer, right But what of morality The legal system favors biological connection, so David had to break the law to get what he wanted Even if what he wanted was a good life for Anton, using his power to secure rights to the boy outside legal norms is not cool Everybody s Son could so easily have been a morality play about black and white, comeuppance, and unfairness But Umrigar is far too competent a writer to let things go there David is not presented in monotones He is a nuanced, flawed human being who truly wants to see to Anton s best interests, and is willing to do what it takes, even at the risk of killing his career and marriage to do it Is there selfishness involved Of course But he is neither all good nor all bad That is not what Umrigar does Her characters all reflect light in different directions from asymmetrical facets Even crack head Juanita is shown in both shadow and light The primary journey here is Anton s How black is he How white And in looking at a wider frame, the tale calls to mind an increasing awareness of race, and how people are treated differently based on externals Where does cultural blending become domination Where does mixing become taking Hardly surprising themes for an Indian woman raised in Mumbai who moved to the USA at age 21 And consistent with her prior work, which looks at the places where this color intersects with that, where have meets have not, where cultures clash and intersect, where need and desire engage with morality.Friendship permeates the story as well Both David and Anton have besties who are always there for them I suppose that is possible, but in both instances, it struck me that the friendships Umrigar describes were rather idealized, lacking the sort of nuance she applied to her characters There is consideration given to choice versus destiny David sees himself as not at all a political animal, and puts up resistance when queried about this or that move up the political ladder Yet he accedes Is it because he is giving in to the expectations of the world or is it his true self coming to the surface Anton faces similar challenges In fact the early working title for the book was The Destiny.This is the first novel by Umrigar that makes no use of India or people from India The crack epidemic of the early 1990s informed setting the beginning of her novel then While there is a look at the other side of the tracks in this book, it is not a large one Where she has traveled the globe in prior work, this one is purely an American tale While the story is definitely engaging, and Anton and David are well drawn, relatable characters, it seemed to me to not quite have the emotional oomph of some of her earlier work The novel picked up the beat when the female characters took center stage, Delores Coleman, David s wife, Anton s mother, Juanita, and Anton s girlfriend, Corine, all carry special energy to their scenes, adding powerful feeling to the story While this may or may not be as riveting as some of her earlier work, Umrigar remains an excellent story teller with interesting things to say, and an engaging way of saying them An intriguing tale of race and identity, of love and morality, of seeking truth and then having to cope with what one finds, Everybody s Son merits a spot on everybody s reading list Review posted December 2, 2016Publication date June 6, 2017 EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s personal, Twitter, and FB pagesDecisions, decisions, decisions The poem Casabianca is mentioned early in the book It is worth checking out the full text of it for possible significance in the novelOther Thrity Umrigar books I have read The World We Found The Weight of Heaven The Space Between Us


  2. Diane S ☔ Diane S ☔ says:

    3.5 Anton, a young black boy, was only ten when his life was irrevocably changed Left alone in a sweltering apartment with little food, by his crack addicted mother, he manages to break a window and climb out He will be taken by social services and will find himself as a foster child, living with a prominent white family, father a judge, a family who is still recovering from the grief of losing their only child Many interesting moral questions arise in this novel, the first novel this author 3.5 Anton, a young black boy, was only ten when his life was irrevocably changed Left alone in a sweltering apartment with little food, by his crack addicted mother, he manages to break a window and climb out He will be taken by social services and will find himself as a foster child, living with a prominent white family, father a judge, a family who is still recovering from the grief of losing their only child Many interesting moral questions arise in this novel, the first novel this author has written that is not about those of Indian descent Abuse of power, white privilege, a wrong committed, racial bias, would make a good book discussion Anton is a wonderful character, but this book, his life follows an almost storybook trajectory, Anton, himself almost too good to be true The writing is without much emotional, mechanical and I was all set to rate this three stars, until the last third of the book Anton comes face to face with his past, and finally cracks in the facade begin to appear I decided, don t know whether the author meant this to be, but the writing in the first third I took to mimic the closed off feelings of Anton He was only I half a life, doing what was expected of him, finding some joy, feeling some sadness, but he was far from a whole person.The story is interesting and as I said will raise many questions The prose is clear and concise, and the book flows well Will being resting to see if any readers come to the same conclusion I did about the writing style mimicing Anton s feelings Loved the ending, it was fitting and right


  3. Liz Liz says:

    I do believe Thrity Umrigar has a lot of important things to say and she put down a story with great potential, one that forces you to examine your beliefs on issues such as race, class, child welfare, and the justice system as it relates those issues I was really looking forward to reading Everybody s Son, but in the end I confess disappointment It s my opinion that the writing failed to support a story of this gravity, something I just couldn t get past My chief complaint is that of inconst I do believe Thrity Umrigar has a lot of important things to say and she put down a story with great potential, one that forces you to examine your beliefs on issues such as race, class, child welfare, and the justice system as it relates those issues I was really looking forward to reading Everybody s Son, but in the end I confess disappointment It s my opinion that the writing failed to support a story of this gravity, something I just couldn t get past My chief complaint is that of inconstant characterization Anton s foster father and the grown up version of Anton both come off as mercurial, sometimes making instant about faces on major life issue that seem all too improbable There are also references made to personality traits that were initially described as the very opposite These things make it difficult to connect with the characters and I m surprised that at least some were not caught by an editor prior to publishing The other facet I didn t care for was that the writing in general is overwrought Too much telling rather than demonstrating how each person feels to better clarify, it s like too much description in an emotional moment actually sucks the intensity right out of it Umrigar is also prone to hyperbole, which really rubs me the wrong way For exampleDavid felt his body quiver with prideI mean, I understand the message here but it still makes me cringe Sometime, less isI think that s probably enough said I know not everyone will agree, and you might actually enjoy this if you re not put off by the kind of writing quirks that I ve described As for myself, I m adjusting my original three stars down to two because it was no better than just ok


  4. Aditi Aditi says:

    I feel bare I didn t realize I wore my secrets as armor until they were gone and now everyone sees me as I really amVeronica RothThrity Umrigar, the bestselling, critically acclaimed author, has penned a terrific and extremely heart breaking literary fiction in her new book called, Everybody s Son A Novel that centers around a biracial, abandoned kid, who is adopted by a rich and powerful white family while his crackpot mother rotted away in jail, and later he grows up to carry forwaI feel bare I didn t realize I wore my secrets as armor until they were gone and now everyone sees me as I really amVeronica RothThrity Umrigar, the bestselling, critically acclaimed author, has penned a terrific and extremely heart breaking literary fiction in her new book called, Everybody s Son A Novel that centers around a biracial, abandoned kid, who is adopted by a rich and powerful white family while his crackpot mother rotted away in jail, and later he grows up to carry forward his adopted family s name by himself becoming someone important, but he can never shake off the strong relationship he had with his own mother and now after so many years, he is going to learn lots of dirty secrets about his past as well as about his adopted family, that will threaten his whole sanity as well as his existence Synopsis The bestselling, critically acclaimed author of The Space Between Us and The World We Found deftly explores issues of race, class, privilege, and power and asks us to consider uncomfortable moral questions in this probing, ambitious, emotionally wrenching novel of two families one black, one white.During a terrible heat wave in 1991 the worst in a decade ten year old Anton has been locked in an apartment in the projects, alone, for seven days, without air conditioning or a fan With no electricity, the refrigerator and lights do not work Hot, hungry, and desperate, Anton shatters a window and climbs out Cutting his leg on the broken glass, he is covered in blood when the police find him.Juanita, his mother, is discovered in a crack house less than three blocks away, nearly unconscious and half naked When she comes to, she repeatedly asks for her baby boy She never meant to leave Anton she went out for a quick hit and was headed right back, until her drug dealer raped her and kept her high Though the bond between mother and son is extremely strong, Anton is placed with child services while Juanita goes to jail.The Harvard educated son of a US senator, Judge David Coleman is a scion of northeastern white privilege Desperate to have a child in the house again after the tragic death of his teenage son, David uses his power and connections to keep his new foster son, Anton, with him and his wife, Delores actions that will have devastating consequences in the years to come.Following in his adopted family s footsteps, Anton, too, rises within the establishment But when he discovers the truth about his life, his birth mother, and his adopted parents, this man of the law must come to terms with the moral complexities of crimes committed by the people he loves most After 7 days of struggle and abandonment in his own apartment, where his crackpot mother left him for a few minutes that apparently turned into days, Anton Vesper escapes from a window, only to be rescued by the local police, who then later find out the location of his careless drug addict mother, who is immediately charged with child abandonment and faces jail time So Anton isn t handed over to her, and since David Coleman has his own games to play in this small town, he schemes and plots to foster this abandoned child in order to replace his lost son, who was destined to carry his family s legacy David and his wife, Delores has recently lost their teenage son, and being a powerful rich white man of the town, he waves his magic wand and makes a few calls, upon hearing about Anton s foster situation And finally Anton has a loving and caring home to look forward to The child who loved his mother like anything, despite of her flaws, he grows up to become the Attorney General and through the years, he struggles with his mixed race and skin color, as well as with his dark past, where his mother still lingers like a ghost But David s lies, that he fed to his wife as well as to both Anton s mother and to the boy, have now come undone and are threatening to ruin the lives of those who matter And can Anton live with his father s lies or will he confront his own existence Can he forgive and find his own identity Have only heard good things about this author and her books, so when I got the opportunity to review this book, I simply could not pass it on And I ve always loved books that feature a racial angle, the struggles of it and family issues surrounding it Sadly, the author might not have been able to tie those connection strikingly, but she has successfully manages to concoct a deeply moving story about a young boy, growing up with lies and later on realizes his own worth and the value of his own race and background Literary fiction aficionados will, no doubt, find this book to be delightful and poignant, all throughout A man so greedy for a son, plots to become the father of an abandoned young boy for his own selfish reasons, and why can t he, when he has so much power to achieve that, but can he face the outcome, when his lies come to the light, especially when the boy learns about his cruel intentions The climax will take the readers off their edges, since it is unpredictable and thoroughly tragic The story is powerful, but I wish the story telling could have been a bit eloquent enough As a result, the readers might find the loose ends dangling from the end of each chapter Yet the narrative is spot on, laced with enough emotional depth to move the readers as well as contemplate with the characters voices and their plight The pacing is bit slow, as the events from the book take a lot of time to develop or rather say, take a lot of time to unfold The prose is articulate yet somehow the plot development is not that strong enough for the readers to get a grip on the story line The characters from the book are realistically painted, but lacks depth and dimensions in their demeanor, so felt a bit bland The main character, Anton, is an inspiring character who goes through a lot of challenges at a very tender age for his mixed race and that part is handled with enough sensitivity by the author What irks me is that Anton could have been developed with muchlayers, he is bit monotonous even though the author never fails to portray his emotions in a vivid manner The next important character from the book is a fine and interesting man with selfish intentions, yes, that s right, David Coleman would go at any lengths to make Anton successful and carry the family legacy of greatness This story also features about his own personal journey as a powerful judge of the state and his own mistakes that come undone at a later stage The female secondary characters are not painted so well, all I can say is that they are pretty simple In a nutshell, this book is evocative and compelling but somewhere between the lines, it lost its touch of charm and poignancy Definitely, it could have been much better, since the story will only provoke the thoughts of its readers Verdict an empowering read where the protagonists are on a path to seek truth behind their race and families and discover their individuality Courtesy Thanks to the publishers from Harper Collins India for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book


  5. Rachel Rachel says:

    I wanted to love this book because I love the premise so much, but I could not get past the unbelievable characters and the terrible dialogue For example, the 9 year old boy from the inner city on his way to his new foster home says, Cool I never seen that I love kitties And the foster father calls the boy Sport and Fella The foster father also says things like, That s what the combo of a druggie mother and a crappy school system buys you Our tax dollars at work None of these are I wanted to love this book because I love the premise so much, but I could not get past the unbelievable characters and the terrible dialogue For example, the 9 year old boy from the inner city on his way to his new foster home says, Cool I never seen that I love kitties And the foster father calls the boy Sport and Fella The foster father also says things like, That s what the combo of a druggie mother and a crappy school system buys you Our tax dollars at work None of these are believable They re just not how people talk.The character s feelings also are unclear at times like when the foster father kneels down to talk to the boy before going into his house for the first time, and then is embarrassed when his wife sees him kneeling Why would you be embarrassed for getting on a child s level to make him feel comfortable So he pretends to be tying the child s shoes But also, as with the boy s dialogue above, it makes it seem as though Umrigar thinks her character is 4, not 9.Additionally, a judge who is close friends with the prosecutor and judge on the biological mother s case would never be made a foster parent, so that part of the premise is flawed as well.Finally, Umrigar smacks you over the head with foreshadowing, which is insulting as it assumes the reader is not smart enough to see plot developing on his or her own.DNF


  6. Faith Faith says:

    I really liked the first third of the book when Anton was a child When he was 9 the biracial boy was placed in a foster home with a wealthy white couple who had lost their only son I felt sorry for everyone here as heartbreaking decisions were made, some of which were ethically questionable Unfortunately, I wasn t that crazy about the rest of the book It had too much politics for me and Anton s progression from Harvard to attorney general was so rushed and uneventful I couldn t believe that I really liked the first third of the book when Anton was a child When he was 9 the biracial boy was placed in a foster home with a wealthy white couple who had lost their only son I felt sorry for everyone here as heartbreaking decisions were made, some of which were ethically questionable Unfortunately, I wasn t that crazy about the rest of the book It had too much politics for me and Anton s progression from Harvard to attorney general was so rushed and uneventful I couldn t believe that he would encounter no racism or other difficulties along the way Finally, when Anton learned how he had been misled about his past, the resolution felt too pat I expected to like thisbased on the beginning of the book, but I was glad when it was over


  7. Monica Monica says:

    Letting this one marinateFirst thoughts something not quite right in the writing charactersBig and interesting ethical quandaries but laid out in a way that bypasses the complexitiesNarrator may have inhabited a point of view not intended by the authorInteresting plot not quite executed wellPolitics within the book were too simplistic and clear cutCharacters were larger than life meaning they achieved things in ways that seem unrealistic Overall novel was good, but lots of unrealized potent Letting this one marinateFirst thoughts something not quite right in the writing charactersBig and interesting ethical quandaries but laid out in a way that bypasses the complexitiesNarrator may have inhabited a point of view not intended by the authorInteresting plot not quite executed wellPolitics within the book were too simplistic and clear cutCharacters were larger than life meaning they achieved things in ways that seem unrealistic Overall novel was good, but lots of unrealized potential 3.5 StarsListened to the audio book Josh Bloomberg did a good job


  8. Celeste Ng Celeste Ng says:

    EVERYBODY S SON probes directly into the tender spots of race and privilege in America and how those systems can be perpetuated even by those with the best intentions With assured prose and deep insight into the human heart, Thrity Umrigar explores the moral gray zone of what parents, no matter their race, will do for love.


  9. Michelle Michelle says:

    There were no adultsThere were just tall children stumbling around the world, walking pools of unfinished hopes, unmet needs, and seething desires The unsuccessful ones ended up in asylums The ones who learned to masquerade those needs became politicians My first encounter with Thrity Umrigar was a library sponsored Date with a Book Held around Valentine s day, patrons were encouraged to fall in love with a new author by taking home a gift wrapped in hearts and tufts of red and There were no adultsThere were just tall children stumbling around the world, walking pools of unfinished hopes, unmet needs, and seething desires The unsuccessful ones ended up in asylums The ones who learned to masquerade those needs became politicians My first encounter with Thrity Umrigar was a library sponsored Date with a Book Held around Valentine s day, patrons were encouraged to fall in love with a new author by taking home a gift wrapped in hearts and tufts of red and pink tissue paper That gift was The Story Hour about the complex relationship between an Indian immigrant and her well to do American psychologist The Story Hour was such a many layered deep novel, rich with nuance and humanity Because of this I was so excited when Everybody s Son was chosen by Literary Fiction by People of Color for the December group read After hearing the premise an examination of race and privilege through the lens of a Black foster child being taken in by a politically connected White family I was ready to be treated by Umrigar s deft hand However, I found she fell short on this one For some reason her characters did not ring true to me this time around Instead they seemed like gross caricatures of unidimensional stereotypes Coleman the politician who views himself above the law where the ends justify the means Those around him, especially Anton, are treated as commodities despite his professed love Juanita remains unsophisticated and victimized even in her sobriety Here is her take on Carine, the only educated Black woman in the book The beauty that had dazzled and blinded him fell away, as if he had drunk a potion in a fairy tale, and he had found himself walking beside the ordinary black girl, one who hid her insecurities behind a fa ade of bravado and radicalism Her radicalism is phony, he thought, because it keeps her from seeing the world, blinds her to its mysteries and charms Even her intellectualism is suspect because it s not open minded and skeptical and probing but, rather, circular, chasing its own tail This book had the potential to have been so muchI was waiting for Coleman to admit to wrongdoing, for Juanita s strength to shine, for Anton to step into his own I was waiting


  10. Trevor Trevor says:

    3.5 stars for my first Thrity Umrigar novel, it certainly won t be my last With a prose concise clear, EVERYBODY S SON flowed easily made for a breezy read Difficult subject matter but the structure of the text made it easier to absorb digest Umrigar composes multi layered MCs who raise some hard questions about nature vs nurture just how far you ll go to excuse crooked behavior how the ends justify the means.EVERYBODY S SON takes place over a course of 25 years In 1991, we are 3.5 stars for my first Thrity Umrigar novel, it certainly won t be my last With a prose concise clear, EVERYBODY S SON flowed easily made for a breezy read Difficult subject matter but the structure of the text made it easier to absorb digest Umrigar composes multi layered MCs who raise some hard questions about nature vs nurture just how far you ll go to excuse crooked behavior how the ends justify the means.EVERYBODY S SON takes place over a course of 25 years In 1991, we are introduced to nine year old Anton, who will be taken to social services after it is discovered he has been left alone for a week in an apartment during the heat wave His mother, a crack addict, was supposed to come back home but never showed This action will inevitably change both her her son s lives forever Anton is sent to live with Judge David Coleman his wife, Delores, who are still grieving from the loss of their son James.David immediately becomes fond of Anton, finding that while Anton can never replace James, it does ease the pain in his heart a bit He knows Juanita Anton s mother will be back out onto the streets soon enough, that he will have to hand Anton back over to her Unlesshe can make her give up custody of the boy, convincing Juanita that he is much better off with him his wife, that they can provide Anton with a life Juanita could only dream of Which of course, is exactly what he does Perhaps a bit of a cliche, the character of a corrupt politician, the way that David constructs this lie, the web that he weaves, is absolutely insidious The white man looking down on shaming the black woman for not taking care of her son where have we seen that before It s mind blowing that David truly believes in the falses he spits out anything to get a chance to call Anton his own This damage will cause David to officially adopt Anton, legally making him his son, but what about Anton Is there a shred of truth to his disgusting politics Did David his wife really give Anton a better life As for Anton, he will follow in David s footsteps Being brought into a family of politicians that go back generations, Anton will get his own taste of the action as well as running for governor He will have tossed away the only woman he genuinely loved, Carine, the college sweetheart whose opinions were a little too loud for comfort in the home of elected officials He will find comfort in Katherine, but I personally believe he will be happy with her He will endure the loss of his grandfather, Pappy, as well as David s heart attack He will be on the campaign trail, with the desire to change the communities in his eyes, until a letter from his long lost mother catches him off guard Thinking she wrote to him for no other reason than to blackmail him this is Washington, after all , he goes to track her down After all these years, he still believes what David told him That Juanita gave him up, that she couldn t take care of him any.After 25 years, Anton comes to the startling realization that although he is everybody s son, he is really nobody s son He doesn t know who he is any Can Anton rewrite his destiny, choose to own his identity Umrigar tackles racism especially in politics , the cruel reality of a black upbringing vs a white upbringing, the lengths grief will fuel you to claim something that isn t yours, trying to figure out who you are, on your own termsThis is definitely the type of novel I could picture at book club meetings, themes that force you to have discussions afterwards EVERYBODY S SON is a work that will bring awareness to the table doesn t back down from the tainted concepts of expectations privilege I am looking forward to checking out Umrigar s other releases


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