Genre: Contemporary fiction (1980’s setting), release 7/18/17
Shortest summary ever: Francie is a mom to 2 girls – Vivian and Enid (13 and 10 respectively), married to Tate, a college professor. Let’s put it this way – she won’t be winning mom of the year awards. Estranged from Tate, battling an eating disorder, and haunted by the strange death of her son 7 years prior, she barely passes for a mom. Dad is wrapped up with dealing with this, and he’s no angel either.
What’s good under the hood: Adoring the revolving narratives, I dove into each member of the family with gusto, and they are well written. The two girls mirror their parents in many ways, some positive, some sad. It’s a lesson in what kids learn from their environment (good and bad). A rarity, my gauge on characters I liked/didn’t like changed so much in the course of the story that it kept me guessing until the last page. I enjoyed the story and thought it to be REAL – all the nitty gritty don’t-really-want-to-read-this-sad-stuff-but-have-to REAL. Real to me is often magical – like I’m a voyeur peeking in at this dysfunctional family. I felt embarassed for them and embarassed that I was watching, but like the proverbial train-wreck, I couldn’t look away.
What’s bad or made me mad: Nothing made me outright mad, but it’s a slower paced novel of a serious nature. Without giving spoilers, I was disappointed with a vague aspect of the story that I wanted a resolution to and never received. I never REALLY understood what happened and felt a massive disappointment with that. (Unless I didn’t read closely which would be my bad).
- The story develops page after page so those in the mood for a lush, deep, rich story, not a riveting quick-paced romp.
- Those looking for serious topics, but don’t be too afraid – it’s a pretty quick read.
Thanks to NetGalley, Tin House books (W.W. Norton) and the author for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review and new appreciation for my (pretty) normal family.