Book Review Monday!
A book about a woman who loses her entire family in one tragic accident is ambitious, as it faces many potential potholes on the road to conclusion. It is too easy to become cloying, too easy to dilute the experience, too easy to make it trite and a perfect script for a cry-a-little-laugh-a-little Lifetime movie. Did You Ever Have a Family seems to hit every possible pothole in the road and then some. There are far too many characters such that the main character’s internal dialogue is lacking. We aren’t plunged into her incalculable grief because we are hurried on to other characters and side stories that remind me of the same way people tend to scamper away from raw emotion in conversation. When confronted with something so terrible, people at best can glance at it before they comment on how good these deviled eggs are, or how nice the weather was at the burial, did you see that bird on the tree branch?
It seems the author was equally unable to stare, unflinchingly, into the face of such an immense and unthinkable tragedy. There is rich emotional earth to mine, but the writing just isn’t up to the task, and as final insult, the plot takes some twists and turns to bring the reader to a pat and somewhat insulting coincidence that is supposed to make everyone feel better and gain resolution for the un-resolvable. As such, the book is disconnected from its own central premise and lacking in depth. Ambitious, but unfulfilled, the sense upon finishing it is one of dissatisfaction. 2 small stars.