Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Strangers at the Feast, by Jennifer Vanderbes

Strangers at the Feast: A NovelHolidays can be a nightmare, especially when your family consists of a father who is a Vietnam vet, a mother who lives like a doormat, a brother about to suffer financial ruin (and his wife who is in deep denial), and your newly adopted mute Indian daughter.  Nothing says fun like dysfunction, as Ginny soon learns.  She attempts to have her family to her new home for dinner, but the plans go awry.  They move dinner to her brother's house, and that is when it really hits the fan.  The moral of this tale is, everything has consequences.  Just ask Kijo and Spider.

What a rich and complex tale Vanderbes has told in her sophomore work.  One would expect the author to be quite seasoned, given the sophistication of the writing in this novel.  I absolutely loved the way each character's story unfolded, and how as the plot wore one, these stories intertwined.  I felt as if Venderbes had left me literary bread crumbs, allowing me to find my way back to bits of the story that would make more sense later.  It was simply brilliant.

I am a sucker for a dark. sardonic tale now and then, and I loved seeing those aspects at work in the book.  There is a fair amount of satire and political commentary between the lines, as well as a stark picture of what many realities many families have faced in the 21st century, across different countries and socio economic groups.

All in all, probably not the kind of book you would want to give mom for Christmas, but an excellent read, one I think young twenty and thirty something readers will devour, and in which they will see many people they recognize, perhaps even themselves.

A touring review copy of this book was made available courtesy of Crazy Book Tours.