From Publishers Weekly
Blau's second novel (after The Summer of Naked Swim Parties) revolves around a family in crisis after a mother's debilitating heart attack. The troubled adult children of Buzzy and Louise come home to visit their parents on their hippie ranch in Santa Barbara, Cal., "where the days are so sunny you'd swear a nuclear reactor had exploded." Sisters Anna and Portia, and brother Emery, recall the events that led them to their restless present. Emery and his partner, Alejandro, tip-toe around the topic of asking a sister to donate eggs so that they can have a child. During their week-long visit everyone must deal with uncomfortable details about their parents' personal lives, as well as the ghosts of the people they once were, wishing that they could leave their childhood wounds behind once and for all. Blau writes funny, often heartbreaking, and always relatable anecdotes. She aptly describes the family visiting Louise in the hospital: "every day, a moment comes when someone can no longer take sitting in the beeping, stinking room." Blau's lifelike characters are such a joy to get to know that one feels sorry to leave them behind.
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The bohemian Southern California Stein family faces a crisis when its matriarch, Louise, suffers a massive heart attack. The three adult children, Anna, Portia, and Emery, return home to hold vigil and commiserate over their unusual upbringing, recalling Louise’s fondness for frequenting the nude beach; her pot habit, which inspired their father to devote his avid gardening skills to cultivating a deluxe homegrown version in their backyard; and Louise’s abdication of her parental role when she gave Emery’s care over to Portia, then age eight. All three have suffered from being raised in a chaotic environment. Anna is chronically unfaithful to her husband, eyeing every male stranger as a potential bedmate. Portia struggles to recover her self-esteem in the wake of her husband’s desertion. Emery, happily in love with his soul mate, Alejandro, has become obsessed with domesticity. Blau uses every trick in a writer’s arsenal to make readers care about this flawed, very human family. From painful humor to poignant scene-setting, she takes no prisoners in her candid look at an unconventional clan. --Joanne Wilkinson