Monday, April 25, 2011

family ~ Micol Ostow ARC review

April 26, 2011
384 pages

Amazon/Goodreads/Book Depository

Micol Ostow's family is loosely based on the Manson Family murders (and Charles Manson's cult) of 1969. family's main character (and narrator) is seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen a girl who's run away to escape abuse when she meets Henry (the stand-in for Manson). Told in free verse poetry, family
chooses to examine Mel's past as well as her introduction to and life in Henry's 'family.'

The 'family' lives together, sleeps together, eats together and shares everything. They gather food for their meals, wash the clothes, everyone has a chore, something to do.

To really be a part of her new family--and succeed at leaving the old one behind--Mel has to take part in everything Henry and his 'family' have to offer.

No matter how far they might go . . . or what she Mel might be called to do in the name of the family.

Because family is told through Mel, we only get her perspective on things. She usually feels . . . disconnected or removed from everything, including that which is happening in her life. It's easy to see why a girl who had suffered abuse like Mel and left to be free, would fall in with Henry.

Mel's disconnection from things makes sense given the situation, but at times it keeps the reader from really connecting with the story. We never quite get why Henry is so enigmatic and attractive to all of these people. Why it is that everyone's so willing to do what he says.

family is more a look at a girl in Henry's family than it is a look at Henry's (re Manson's) family. Readers do understand how (if not why) things operate in the group and the poetry gives a real sense of who Melinda is--and how she got that way, though. The glimpses into the way that the family operates, do give the reader the opportunity to see the little ways (that are not so little in the end) that members are controlled--the girls especially. It's Melinda's immersion in the family--and therefore her lack of reaction to most of these things--that while sometimes give them more impact, also the reader from finding out more.

Those looking for a true telling of the Manson murders--or the people involved--via YA fiction, might be slightly disappointed. But if you go into family realizing how much of it is a story about a girl who thought Henry was going to save her . . . and then found the dark side to everything, it's a great read.

MIcol Ostow's poetry is beautiful (and capitalization choices that I love). Even if you aren't one to normally read verse novels (YA or otherwise), do give family a chance.


thank you to Jennifer and EgmontUSA for my advance copy of this book.

Apologies if any of the formatting on this entry is weird--Blogger's acting funny

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