The Turner House by Angela Flournoy Release Date: April 14, 2015 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Literary Fiction Stand Alone Book Number of Pages: 320 Kindle Edition Source: borrowed from Midwest Collaborative for Library Services Rating: PG-13 (although there is not a lot of violence or sex, it may be over many young heads) Read 8/22/16 to 8/27/16
As you can tell by the dates that I read this book, I’ve been holding onto this review. The reason is that it was my book club’s book and I wanted to wait until after we had our meeting so I could share their impressions also.
Quite a while back I told you a little about my book club. Well, it’s gone through some changes since 2013. My older sister, moved to Arizona in the summer of 2013 so is no longer a member. Andie and Millie just never had the time so bowed out of the club. Jen just moved out of state a couple of months ago. Kristina is no longer my brother’s girlfriend but now his wife and the mother of his son. And Liz is now married to Gina’s ex-husband so, although some find it odd, she is now a part of the family. We haven’t scared everyone away though, we added Liz’s older sister Linda to the group.
I’m going to post my review of the book and just add a few notes at the end about the overall impression the group had. Here’s my review:
So many thoughts and feelings on this one. I don’t even know where to start. I guess at the beginning.
This was a slow starter for me. It’s not that it wasn’t interesting, because it was…from the very start. It just had more of a slow build. Although there are 13 Turner kids we don’t get everyone’s POV. Mostly the oldest, Cha Cha, the youngest and second youngest, Lelah and Troy. What I found interesting was at one point I wasn’t super excited about Lelah’s story, yet later I looked forward to the chapters that were her POV. I was in turns mad at Cha Cha and understanding of his thoughts. So many ups and downs, highs and lows.
I am the 2nd of 4 kids, not anywhere as huge of a family as the Turner’s. My mom is the 1st of 8, so I do know about big families from our family gatherings. Angela Flournoy did such a great job of capturing what it feels like to be the youngest, the oldest, the “problem”, the “good one”, etc. And how each child in a family can view the parents in such different ways. And how parents can view their kids so differently than the siblings do.
I grew up just outside of Detroit in a suburb that was predominately white. I moved back to the same suburbs to raise my kids after 10 years away and it’s now more of a melting pot of Caucasian, Black, Arabic, with a bit of Hispanic and Asian thrown into the mix. Full disclosure, I myself am Caucasian so I can’t speak for any other race. But from my experiences I have to say the author really seemed to get the tone of this area. I was surprised to find out she actually grew up in L.A. From what I’ve read she had strong ties to Detroit and visited often growing up, but it was still quite a feat to really capture the spirit of the people living in and around the city.
I picked this book for my book club because of its ties to Detroit, but now that I’ve read the book I feel the book is deeply about family. Sure, Detroit feels like a character lurking in the background (which I love), but the family ties and bonds are relevant for all geographies, all ages, all races. That’s why I’ll be recommending this book to all readers.
It turns out everyone in book club agreed that the first half of this book was pretty slow, but in the end they are all glad we read this book and they all enjoyed the story. Lynne had seen an article about how the author captured the speech of African-Americans in Detroit. I guess it is said there is a certain speech pattern that isn’t found elsewhere. Since I was born and raised in the area it didn’t occur to me, but once she said that I knew it was true. I commented that often times a character’s voice would bring to mind a particular person I worked with or went to school with in the past so I believe Ms. Flournoy did a wonderful job of getting the dialect down.
This book was great at beginning a dialogue amongst the group about he revitalization of Detroit and what that entails. I mentioned the show “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and the character Lillian played by Carol Kane. If you don’t watch that show, Lillian is a bit eccentric. Anyway, she is very fearful of the coffee shops and such going up in their neighborhood in New York because she knows that means they will make more improvements in the area and it will attract a “higher class” of resident and soon she will no longer be able to afford living there. That seemed to be the worry of most of us in book club. Can these changes and improvements continue to be made without pushing people out of their family homes? It’s a tough one for sure.
Everyone agreed that this story is such a good story about family. I found it interesting how we all viewed the characters a bit differently depending on where we were in our own family’s birth order. That’s why it’s so great to be part of a book club. You get different views on a story as well as read books that may have never gotten on your radar.
So for our next book club pick we will be reading Trouble in Mudbug (which happens to be free on Kindle as of this moment, don’t know for how long though) book #1 in the Ghost-in-Law series by Jana Deleon. (A drastically different choice in genres.) We’ll be meeting on Sunday, October 23, 2016 so I’ll post my review shortly after that. If you’d like to read along and post your opinions on the book I’d love to hear from you.