Family Matters

Reading in Threes: Family Matters

Are you rolling your eyes because the curating genius in me looped together three books with families? I know, I know…there are families in 98% of fiction, but these three are actually about families. Really.

the nakeds glatt
The Nakeds by Lisa Glatt
Published by Regan Arts on June 2nd, 2015
Source: Library
Pages: 288
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The morning her mother discovers her father’s affair, seven year-old Hannah Teller decides to walk to school on her own, leaving no witnesses when she is struck by a hit-and-run driver. Hannah survives, but is bound for years by a series of casts that will attempt to repair the damage done to her leg. Over the course of the decade, while Hannah moves from cast to cast, her family transforms as her mother remarries and embraces the sexual revolution of the 1970’s.

The Nakeds has a lot going on: nudism, alcoholism, open marriages, blended families, immigration, recovery, teenage exploration. But Lisa Glatt navigates her many themes without the use of tricks or fanfare—all she needs is great writing. I found myself devouring pages, even when the plot felt a little tangled or slightly unrealistic, which made The Nakeds an absolutely perfect book for really losing myself on vacation.

 

bull mountain panowich
Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich
Published by Putnam on July 7th, 2015
Source: Publisher
Pages: 304
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Clayton Burroughs has done everything possible to distance himself from his family and their long line of outlaw activities, which now includes the trade of guns and meth from the family homestead on top of Bull Mountain in North Georgia across state lines. As sheriff, Clayton does what he can to keep his family in line, but must consider an offer made by a federal agent that will require him to truly test his loyalties.

Over the past few years, I’ve read pretty widely in the Grit Lit corner of the book world, which made me somewhat skeptical of Bull Mountain at first. Though I was impressed by Panowich’s writing from the first paragraph, there was little else helping it stand out from its peers—until about halfway through, when a twist in the narrative sets off a chain of events that makes the book nearly impossible to put down. I wasn’t thrilled by a change at the tail end of the novel, but still highly recommend picking it up.

 

mislaid zink
Mislaid by Nell Zink
Published by Ecco on May 19th, 2015
Source: Library
Pages: 256
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Peggy Villaincourt meets poet and professor Lee Fleming in 1966, as a freshman at her small Virginia college. Though Peggy is a lesbian and Lee is gay, the pair has an affair that results in a marriage and two children before Peggy runs off with their three year-old daughter. In an effort to protect herself from the private investigators Lee and his wealthy family have hired, Peggy and her daughter hide in rural Virginia by adopting the personas of light-skinned African Americans.

If Mislaid sounds a little off its rocker, that’s because it is. And it’s meant to be. It’s witty and funny and pointed and smart in ways many books never dare to be. Unfortunately, that pointed wittiness only works about 50% of the time. The rest of the novel feels less like a novel and more like a collection of scribbled drafts or tributaries Zink started to navigate before realizing they led nowhere—it just doesn’t add up.

 

  • I’ll have to take a look at The Nakeds, sounds interesting! Obviously you already know my feelings about Bull Mountain, and I just couldn’t get into Mislaid – gave it a 50ish page try though! Hope you had a great time at the beach!

  • I just finished Bull Mountain and loved it…finished the last quarter after I got in bed last night! And – I’ve had Mislaid on my TBR for awhile now, but wondering if I should sub it out for The Nakeds?

    • I’m glad to see so many people loving Bull Mountain! I think the best advice I can give with Mislaid is if you try it and aren’t into it early, just be willing to let go.

  • The Nakeds really looks good and one I’ll add to my wishlist. I just noticed it for the first time the other day in an email from ??? I can’t remember the company. Bull Mountain is what I’m reading now, but it’s still too early to tell what I think. So far? I love it. Mislaid is coming up for me in a month or two. I’ve had it on my list for a while and really have wanted to read it since before the release, but I’m thinking I shouldn’t be in a hurry, now.

    • I think if you start Mislaid and don’t like it, just be willing to let it go!

      • I’ll take that advice because I spend too much of my time continuing books that just aren’t working for me in hopes that they will somehow magically transform and become the next prize winner with the flip of the next page. Ain’t nobody got time for dat. haha ;)

  • Malcolm Avenue Review

    Roll my eyes? Au contraire! I was too busy thinking how creative you always are with your posts. These three are all on my radar, just cracked Bull Mountain tonight. I’ve been hesitant about the other two and remain so. I’d like to try them, but with so many other things in the mix I have a feeling they will get left behind. Thanks for your two cents!

    • Really excited to hear what you think about Bull Mountain!

      • Malcolm Avenue Review

        I’m going in with SO much trepidation. I’m going to be interested, too! (P.S., saw the rewind re Broken Monsters and had to scream “Hallelujah!” I think you and I are alone on Mars with this one, hope you have some taters left. I reviewed it when it came out and I’ve never had time to run the review. Going to cram it in somewhere now to refresh my memory so we can chat about it.)

        • YES! Julianne actually tweeted that she didn’t like it, either, so we’re a trio! It had so much going for it, but that ending…woof.

          • Malcolm Avenue Review

            Nice! I feel better all the time. It felt like it had no idea what it wanted to be. And I’m with you on the scary part. Whuck? Though, like you, books rarely “scare” me, I can still get a scary element. This didn’t even have that for me. Woof is right.

  • Susan W

    I haven’t read any of these but I have already added Bull Mountain, as I too love the Grit Lit. What I find very refreshing about this post is the honest review of Mislaid. I find a lot of site/bloggers find good in every book and everything is a recommendation, or the book is never reviewed because it wasn’t liked. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I like reading a review that warns me this book isn’t that great. It’s still up to me if I want to read it, the same as a positive review is. It also makes me believe or give more credit to a glowing review from you. So thanks!

    • I definitely prefer to use the space I have to gush about books I love (so there are many books I don’t review), but I do think it’s important to show I’m not just a book-loving robot every once in a while. The “eh” books tend to get lost in the shuffle, since I usually want to talk about the ones I really disliked/big disappointments (which Mislaid was, I had been looking forward to it for a long time).

  • These all sound great, Shannon! I’m really interested in reading Bull Mountain; I’m going to have to pick up a copy SOON. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on these!

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  • I’m bummed to hear it about Mislaid, because it sounds so promising and it’s been on my list for so long.

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