Family by Micol Ostow
Published: April 26th, 2011 by EgmontUSA
Genre: YA Fiction... in verse? I don't know how to categorize verse books and I'm also not sure if I want to call it historical or contemporary. It never said exactly when it was set but I assumed in the 70s at the latest, honestly. So... um... not sure on the exact genre.
Page count: 376 in my ARC
Part of a series? Nope, standalone.
Amazon / Book Depository / IndieBound
Summary (from goodreads): It is a day like any other when seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen hits the road for San Francisco, leaving behind her fractured home life and a constant assault on her self-esteem. Henry is the handsome, charismatic man who comes upon her, collapsed on a park bench, and offers love, a bright new consciousness, and—best of all—a family. One that will embrace her and give her love. Because family is what Mel has never really had. And this new family, Henry’s family, shares everything. They share the chores, their bodies, and their beliefs. And if Mel truly wants to belong, she will share in everything they do. No matter what the family does, or how far they go.
Review: I'm going to be completely upfront and honest with you guys: I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this one. Honestly, I'm quite conflicted about my emotions. I'm not sure if it's me or the book... but I'm having a heck of a time summarizing my thoughts. Maybe I should just move on to breaking things down?
Plot: The book is loosely based on the Manson Family murders so if you're familiar with what happened, you'll actually recognize some of the elements in Family. (And if you're a bit hazy on the details, a quick Wikipedia read was fine for me and not even necessary. But it is interesting to see the parallels.)
Characters: To be fair, I haven't read a ton of books told in verse. It's an adjustment for me, for sure. But I had trouble connecting to Melinda. She was hard for me to understand at first and, honestly, I did not understand her thinking a lot of the time. That could very well be me and not the book and your mileage may vary but I can only say how I felt.
As for the other characters... okay, I sorta thought they were all bat guano insane. Henry was just... ugh. All of the whole "family" was sort of insane. But I guess that was sort of the point, huh? So it's not really a bad thing, just an observation.
Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: There are almost no capitals beside Henry's name and whenever Melinda mentions him, "Him" and "He" and "His" are always capitalized. It's a bit disconcerting at first, but you get mostly used to it.
But there were a couple pages where "I", which wasn't capitalized for most of the book, was capitalized. Mind you, that could have been a typo that was fixed in the final verson so I'm slapping a big ole "Here be an ARC" on this. But it was hard to tell within the context of the book for me.
PG-13 stuff: There's some language (oddly, not a ton), violence and, ah, a lot of drugs and sex. If that's not your thing, totally fair. Honestly, I wasn't really comfortable with a lot of it (and I like to think I'm pretty fair when it comes to this stuff) because... well, cult sex is creepy. When a character (slash person) is having sex with someone because someone else wants them to... it's creepy and I don't like that.
Cover comments: It's a striking cover. The faceless girl, the flowers, the blood splatters. It's like if you look quickly at it and you only see a girl and flowers, your brain could almost fool you into seeing a bright, happy cover - until you look close. I like it a lot.
Conclusion: I'm still conflicted. I'm glad I read it and I'm pretty sure I'd read it again. Maybe if I did, I'd be able to tell you better how I felt about it. It's an interesting book and worth reading. I think fans of Ellen Hopkins would be interested in this. And I think the writing was good.
But I'm still conflicted about how I feel. I recommend it, but I had a hard time connecting with the characters and the ending left me a bit unsatisfied, both of which are important things for me to enjoy a book. So because I honestly feel this way, I'm not going to rate this one. I feel it would be unfair to put a rating on it when I'm not sure how I feel.
Long story short - good book. Recommended. But I have many complicated feelings that are hard to describe.
So, have you read Family? Tell me what you thought in the comments.
Peace and cookies,