7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Compelling stories of members of unique dysfunctional family,
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This review is from: Send Me (Paperback)
To call this a novel is not really accurate, as it is more a collection of short stories about the members of a uniquely dysfunctional family from a suburban island in Florida. The central focus is on Teresa, the matriarch of the family who tries to hold everything together, with varying results. Her first husband, Dermot, was essentially running away from his powerful Italian-American family in upstate NY, and eventually went back to them, after the birth of Teresa's oldest children, Matt and Katherine. She then was courted and wed by Roger, who worked at the nearby NASA space center, and who became the father of Teresa's other children, Joseph and Frankie, before he leaves her for another woman.
Each chapters focus primarily on one character at a time, be it one of Teresa's two husbands or one of the children, as they grew into teenagers and adulthood. Most colorful of the latter is Frankie, a dreamer obsessed with space travel and aliens as a child, who becomes a gay party boy when attending a Florida university. His older brother Joseph is an introspective, serious boy, outwardly disapproving of Frankie's antics, but secretly envying his "I Am What I Am" bravado as he copes with his own confusion about his sexual orientation. Katherine, who ditches her name earlier and insists on being called Karen, is a teenage rebel who marries at 21, looking for the love she feels she didn't get at home. Oldest son Matt was most affected by the departure of his birth father, and moves to NY at age 18 to become his caretaker.
Although brilliantly conceived and written, the book is not that easy to follow, as the chapters don't follow logically from each other,but rather arranged in the order in which the author wanted to tell the story. They aren't in chronological order, aren't labeled as to what character is becoming the narrator of each chapter, which puts a burden on the reader that I found uncomfortable at times. My feeling is the author's disjointed, frustrating tone was intentional, to mimic the state of mind of the characters throughout. The final narrative, by Teresa, ties up loose ends and recaps what happened to each of the characters, and reinforces her role as the individual who did as good a job as possible for her family, despite the obstacles and lack of appreciation. We can also appreciate the author's originality and skill in presenting an admirable first work of fiction. Five stars out of five, including a bonus for originality and gritty realism.