Friday Book Whimsy: The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls

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.

Here is a link to the book.


Friday Book Whimsy: An American Marriage

Ripped from the headlines, and a book I almost didn’t read because of the uneasiness brought about by the topic. An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones is the story of a young African American couple whose lives are dramatically impacted by a false accusation.

Celeste and Roy haven’t been married long when they make a visit to his parents. Celeste is an artist and Roy is a successful business executive. On their way home, they stop in a small motel, and do what many couples do — have a verbal disagreement about something or other. Roy storms out of the room to cool down, and runs into an elderly white woman at the ice machine, where they have a brief conversation.

Later that night, the woman is raped by a black man, whom she insists was Roy. Celeste knows that it absolutely wasn’t, because he was with her the entire night. Nevertheless, he is convicted and sent to prison for the crime which he did not commit. Celeste tries to hang on to hope, but as years pass, she turns to her best friend Andre for comfort.

An American Marriage is the story not only about a situation we often hear on the news, but also the story of how love exists under dire situations. The author is a beautiful writer, and while the story line is serious, the book wasn’t depressing. Perhaps that’s because I’m a white woman. But I tend to think it can be attributed in large part to Jones’ beautiful and uplifting use of language.

While I approached the book with some trepidation, I found I couldn’t put it down, and it has stuck with me despite having read it some time ago.

Very good book.

Here is a link to the book.