Tag Archives: Angela Flournoy

The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy

Turner House

The Turner House

Angela Flournoy

Houghton Mifflin, 2015

352 pages

This is a delightful read that I didn’t want to end! There are 13 adult children in the Turner family and in 2008 a decision needs to be made about the fate of the family home in Detroit. The family has lived in East Detroit for over 50 years and Viola, the matriarch is not well, and is living with the eldest child, Cha Cha. Cha Cha thinks it is time to sell the house, but the value of the house is now less than what is left on the mortgage, and not all of the siblings agree with his idea. The family needs to come together to make a decision and support their aging mother.

There are so many aspects that I loved about this book: the crisp writing; the distinct and alive characters; and the artful balance between plot and character development, but I also loved the central theme—how grown adults siblings, ranging from their 40s to their 60s, interact with each other and cope with their family legacy. Most of the story revolves around the lives of Cha Cha, and the youngest Turner, Lelah, who also lives in Detroit. But the other siblings are part of the story, and their parents’ back-story, and journey to Detroit from the south, is also recounted. This is a powerful look at a 21st century African-American family dealing with each other and the current economic situation in Detroit.

Flournoy has been nominated for and won awards for this book – for good reason! The book is now out in paperback and perfect for an early summer read.





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Books I didn’t read in 2015

I get overwhelmed by how many books, good books, there are to read. There are just not enough hours in the day to read them all. Today I will write about some of the debut novels published in 2015 that I didn’t get to yet.

Garth Risk Hallberg’s, City on Fire is the debut that got the most attention in 2015. However many of the stories focus more on his enormous advance (2 million dollars) than the book itself. The book was included in a round up by The New Republic about 2015 books with mixed reviews, which also included Bill Clegg’s debut novel, Did You Ever Have a Family. I am intrigued by Hallberg’s story, set in NYC in the 70s, but a little daunted by the length, over 900 pages! And Clegg’s book, a story of a family loss, also looks moving.

And Paula Hawkins’ debut Girl on the Train, coined this year’s Gone Girl, continues to do quite well as one of the few debuts on the bestseller list. For those of you who like thrillers, it is meant to be a good read, but this book is getting enough attention that I might not review it.

Some books I hope to read are:

The Fishermen, by Chigozie Obioma is a story of four Nigerian brothers and how an encounter with a madman changes their lives. This book was shortlisted for the Booker and other prizes.

The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy is a story of an African American family in Detroit. Flournoy was a finalist for the Center for Fiction’s Debut Book Prize for this book.

Gonzo Girl, by Cheryl Della Pietra is a fictionalized account of her years working as an assistant to Hunter S Thompson. Should be a fun read!

And The Ambassadors, by George Lerner is set in Africa and New York and explores a family with a father who does expat work, traveling regularly to Africa and how that impacts his son and wife.

To a great year of reading in 2016! More reviews to come later this month.

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The Center for Fiction — 2015 First Novel Long List

The Center for Fiction does good work. They host readings, classes, reading groups and foster an interest in fiction writing. They also have an annual prize that acknowledges the best debut novel of the year. Their long list is out, and The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen, which I reviewed last month, is on it, along with Sophie McManus, whose The Unfortunates, I will review next. Two other titles that stood out to me are:

Girl at War, by Sara Nović, a coming of age story set in Croatia during the Yugoslav Civil War, and New York in 2001, about a young woman coming to grips with her experiences during the war.

The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy, a family drama set in Detroit in which the 13 children in the Turner Family need to decide what to do with the family house, which has lost its value in the financial collapse.

Happy summer reading!


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