The Turner family consists of Francis and Viola Turner and their thirteen children. Mainly it centers around two of the children, Cha-Cha (the oldest) and the Lelah (the youngest).
Cha-Cha is a parental figure for the other siblings. After his father died he had to step up and became more of a father to the younger Turner children. He handles all the family business and settles all the family squabbles. He serves as the legal guardian for their mother, Viola, who has moved in with him because of her declining health. He calls his parental role a gift and a burden. He is fighting his other demons when a ghost from his past returns to haunt him. He is also mulling over what to do with the abandoned Turner House and the huge amount of money that Viola owes on the house. While the family argues over the fate of their old family home, none of them have to heart to tell Viola that she will never go back to live there.
Lelah, the youngest of the family and the other central character of the novel, is a gambling addict who has lost all of her money, been evicted, and been fired from her job. She struggles with her addiction and relationships with other family members, especially her daughter.
When it comes down to it, this book is really about family. All the family members struggle with some sort of resentment, guilt, anger, jealousy or other unresolved issue from the family’s past. Growing up, each Turner had to fight for parental attention while they lived in crowded house in the city of Detroit. Detroit itself is another character in the novel. It steadily declines with its characters.
The book was good, but I did not feel that it deserved a National Book Award nomination.
The Dog Walker by Corwyn Alvarez. For dog lovers and those who like sweet, sentimental stories. Benny is a mentally challenged young man who decides to drop out of school and start his own dog walking business. He makes many friends, human and canine, and brightens the lives of those around him. Sweet, compassionate, loyal and honest, he changes other peoples lives with kindness. He makes friends with an assortment of interesting characters: the anorexic prostitute he falls in love with, the crazy neighbor who thinks he is still in Vietnam, a drug dealer, a retired lawyer he rides the bus with, and of course all the dogs he walks were the best characters. This is a short, cute and sweet little story. It reminded me of “The Curious Dog in the Nighttime,” and a little of “Forrest Gump.”
The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand: Greg and Tess went out on their sailboat, but drown mysteriously, leaving behind two small children as well as the three couples who have long been their closest friends. Tragedy brings to the surface long-simmering conflicts and emotions, and the six grieving friends find themselves unprepared for uncovered secrets as they struggle to answer the question: What happened to Greg and Tess?
Beach Music by Pat Conroy: One of my favorite books. A sweeping, lyrical novel that takes you from the piazzas in Rome to the low country of South Carolina. It covers three generations of a dysfunctional family and the tragedies they endure. It is a beautiful and heartbreaking novel that immerses the reader in the country that Conroy so deeply loved.
Maine by Courtney Sullivan:
As three generations of Kelleher women arrive at the family’s beach house, each brings her own hopes and fears. “As the story progresses, it’s intriguing to see the current dysfunction trace its way back through the generations to its roots in Catholic guilt, alcoholism and bad decisions.
The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher: Penelope Keeling is a character that you just cannot help but love. She suffers a mild heart attack and decides to return to the coast of Cornwall where she goes into the tale of three generations of the Keeling family. I wanted to move to England and live with the charming heroine of this novel and drink tea in the garden all day!!!! The perfect family saga.
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume: I was happy to discover that Judy Blume also writes adult books!! Victoria Leonard and Caitlin Somers were longtime friends who met during a summer vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, an enchanting place where the two friends become “summer sisters.”Their story carries us from Santa Fe to Martha’s Vineyard, from New York to Venice and follows the two women on the paths they each choose.
A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams: Lily Dane, New York socialite, has just returned with her family to an idyllic oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island. Lily is expecting another placid summer season, but this season is different and uneasy secrets slowly reveal themselves. Spend a little time at shimmering parties and lazy days in the sand getting to know this family and their secrets.