Author Anissa Gray’s debut novel, The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, reminds the reader that there is a story behind every person and his and/or her story unavoidably shapes each person’s life.
Their personal story certainly shapes the lives of sisters Althea, Lillian, Viola, and their brother Joe. After their mother dies, the eldest — Althea — takes over raising her siblings. Their father is in and out of their life, and often violent. Therefore, Althea’s sisters and brother are shocked when she and her husband Proctor are arrested and convicted of defrauding many poor and elderly people via a nonprofit they created. The two go to prison.
Lillian takes over raising Althea’s kids, one of whom was responsible for reporting her parents’ illegal activity. The story — told through each of the sisters’ perspective — slowly but surely provides background as to what happened in their lives and how each has coped over the years.
The story moved slowly in some parts. While the subject matter is dark, I can’t quite say that it was an entirely depressing book. As the story progresses, the focus turns to how forgiveness and love can change lives.
I found it hard sometimes to connect with the characters, who often seemed a bit like caricatures. And the comparison by some reviewers to An American Marriage seems to fall short. I loved that book, and I’m afraid I could take or leave this debut novel.