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  • Disfunctional Families

    3.5 Stars Once I got around 50 pages in to the book I started to enjoy it, but it does take perseverance to get that far. There is a lot of information thrown at us initially and, to be perfectly honest, all of the characters are initially painted as being pretty much a complete bunch of horrors. The kind of people you cross the road to avoid in real life. Gloria(?) and Graham, the matriarch and patriarch of the family, have a stale marriage - she has a wandering eye and he just wanders off. Stella and Jack and their 2 children are, respectively, a narcissist and a fantasist. Amy is childlike and entitled and has got herself in to a bit of a pickle with a one night stand. There is some character progression through the book, fortunately, but I never really warmed to any of the characters or the situation they found themselves in, with the exception of Amy. Once you realise the reasons why she is like she is it starts to make sense and at least by the end of the book she is starting to shoulder the burden of being responsible for herself. I'm not entirely sure where the tagline "The magical, laugh out loud..." comes from though. It is sheer hyperbole as there is nothing magical about watching families fracture and then try to rebuild - and it is very definitely try. I came away with the feeling that Gloria(?) and Graham may reconcile and that Amy was sorted but I give Stella and Jack 6 months - tops - before they snide each other to death. There is a little bit of humour but certainly not enough to make you snort let alone laugh out loud. Most of what little there is comes more from denigration of one character by another, whilst reflecting family life pretty accurately it doesn't work as well on the page because those sort of asides need body language to balance them out, in writing they just seem offensive. That said I did enjoy the pacing of the story and finding out the history of the Whitethorn sisters. I did feel it was more of a kitchen sink drama-lite than a comedy though, fortunately I like that kind of book too. It does raise some interesting points about how families perceive each other and how it is all to easy to slot in to familiar childhood roles when everyone gets together.

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