Happy pub day, Anissa Gray! You’ll probably recognize the name of this debut from 19 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2019 … or the fact that it’s basically taking over Goodreads and bookstagram lately. Or maybe, just maybe, you’re like me and the title gave you a mini flashback to American Girl days and The Care and Keeping of You. Spoiler alert: this book is nothing like that book (thankfully LOL). Check out my thoughts below!
The Mothers meets An American Marriage in this dazzling debut novel about mothers and daughters, identity and family, and how the relationships that sustain you can also be the ones that consume you.
The Butler family has had their share of trials—as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest—but nothing prepared them for the literal trial that will upend their lives.
Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will. They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when she and her husband Proctor are arrested, and in a heartbeat the family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace. The worst part is, not even her sisters are sure exactly what happened.
As Althea awaits her fate, Lillian and Viola must come together in the house they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters. What unfolds is a stunning portrait of the heart and core of an American family in a story that is as page-turning as it is important.
What I enjoyed the most about this novel was the intertwining, complex familial relationships. Especially at the beginning – when Althea and Proctor are arrested and the remainder of the family is trying to adjust to their new reality – their coping mechanisms seemed so genuine and authentic given the situation at hand. I also enjoyed the alternating POVs, allowing the full story to be shared. I also really enjoyed Gray’s writing style. She wove together a very power, beautiful story.
Unfortunately, I just struggled to stay connect with the story. The first quarter captured my attention – perhaps because I was trying to see what happened with Althea and Proctor to get them arrested – but then I felt the pace began to slow. I found my attention drifting. Based on the glowing reviews of all of my favorite bookworms on Goodreads and Instagram, I’m clearly in the minority because I liked, but didn’t love it. Even so, I definitely see the light in Gray’s writing and will continue to follow her work going forward.
Thank you so much to Berkeley for providing my advance review copy. It’s always my privilege to share my honest thoughts and opinions with our readers!