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I have two complaints abut this book: it was too short. And I'm not wild about the narrator.
Zoe Heller brings us a family in which each character is so distinct and so clearly crafted, you truly feel you get inside each of them.
The narrator is the main drawback: take, for example, the matriarch of the family, around whom everyone else cautiously orbit. She is originally form the UK. Yet reader Andrea Martin has given her sort of Jewish Brooklyn sound. Martin gives clear voice to the daughters and to slacker Lenny, but the rest of the characters seem to have the same loud, overbearing voices. It did not make sense to me, for instance, that one character hails from Fort Worth, and is highly educated, but speaks in obnoxious Brooklynese that belies her background.
Having said that, this is a compelling story with great characters, all of whom must reckon with painful familial truths, including infidelity, drug abuse, and plain, old fashioned emotional cruelty. These characters grow, learn, change in very honest, real ways.
All in all, if you like good, well-written contemporary literature, get this book!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
the characters in this book are exTREMEly flawed. they are by turns bitchy, self-righteous, jealous, gluttenous, proud, and worse...the living embodiments of the seven deadly sins and a whole host of venial ones. but the writing is so gorgeous and the scenes are so finely drawn that even those awful, awful people became a pleasure to read about. i came to respect and even admire audrey, the family matriarch, despite her cruel tounge. she's screwed up her children so royally that they're barely-functioning adults, and yet i found myself rooting for her time and again. if you can appreciate the ones you love despite their monumental flaws, then this book is definately worth your time.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful