If you read my January Reading Update, then you know I read The Family Fang back in early January. I was requested to review it by my friend, dafinepolish. And I'm happy she requested it, because it forced me to look back at this book in the present and assess it once again.
Kevin Wilson's The Family Fang is a book I picked up at random at a Barnes & Noble. It was at one of those tables labelled "noteworthy paperbacks" and I was drawn in by the cover and the title. Though you can't really see clearly from the photo below (I recommend enlarging it), the cover is of a family. Both the children are wearing masks, and the girl is labeled "child A," and the boy "child B." The parents are both labeled "C." The diagram just seem so odd, it intrigued me. The title, The Family Fang, confirmed my conjectures on the cover- that it would be a family-centric story, possibly about a really eccentric, strange family. I immediately decided "what the hell," and bought it on the spot.
To start off the review, here's the back-cover description:
"Annie and Buster Fang have spent most of their adult lives trying to distance themselves from their famous artist parents, Caleb and Camille. But when a bad economy and a few bad personal decisions converge, the two siblings have nowhere to turn their family home. Reunited under one roof for the first time in more than a decade and surrounded by the souvenirs of their unusual upbringing, Buster and Annie are forced to confront not only their creatively ambitious parents, but the chaos and confusion of their childhood."
My thoughts as I read the book:
When I started the book, I just thought it was the oddest thing ever. The story switched back and forth between the children's past with their parents, and their adult narratives. At the start I wasn't sure how the two connected other than simply through past and present, but I was very intrigued. Every time the story shifted from past to present, I wanted more of the past, then vice versa. It was all very captivating and hard to put down.
About halfway through the book, there was an unseen twist. From there, I found that the book took an intense turn. So far, there had been gradual fluctuations between memories and slowly progressing present narrative. But at that twist, I wasn't sure what to expect anymore (though honestly, I'm not sure there was any point in the book that I found predictable).
My overall thoughts of the book:
I chose this book because I wanted to read about unique familial ties. That is what I got. However, the way that the parents were tied to the children were not at all what I anticipated. From the silly cover, I expected it to be a much more silly, quirky tale. (A good reminder to all of us not to judge a book by it's cover). The novel definitely reminded me of Tolstoy.
"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
The Fang family, is definitely unhappy in its own way.
The best parts of the entire book are the characters. I've been told that characters make a story, more so than a situation, and this book definitely attests to this fact. That is not meaning to say that this story doesn't have a compelling plot. (The twist mid-way through the book is proof of that). But what I felt I was left with when I finished were the characters of Annie and Buster. As strangely unique as this family was, they never stopped feeling real. And that was probably the most amazing part of the book.
I personally enjoy reading about interesting family dynamics. In most cases, they are far more compelling to me than romance stories. If you feel the same way, or ever feel that the novels you're reading are becoming predictable and tiring, I would recommend this book to you.
I hope you enjoyed this book review. I have been enjoying doing bi-weekly reviews in February so much, I may continue into March. (: