Book Review: The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

The Turner House
By Angela Flournoy
Releases 4/14/15
Provided free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 2 bones

This book just wasn’t for me.  The writing was great and I had a very vivid picture of all of the characters and the house and surroundings, it just didn’t move fast enough or hold my interest.  Thus taking me 10 days to finish (which for me is a lot.)  I’ve been reading a lot in the mystery/thriller genre lately, but like to switch it up, so I’m not opposed to good old fiction novel, this one just fell a bit flat for me.

The book follows the Turner Family through both flashbacks to their beginning and journey to the Yarrow House and current day.  The Turner family consisted of patriarch Francis, now deceased, matriarch Viola, now facing death, and their 13 children (and grandchildren.)  All 13 were mentioned at various times, but most of the story lines focused on Cha-Cha, the eldest son, and Lelah, the youngest daughter.

Cha-Cha, now in his 60’s is going through a bit of a crisis and self-discovery as he is convinced he has his own personal haint (new word for me – basically a ghost.)  No one is really giving him any sympathy, but through flashbacks and his mother’s memory, we come to find this may have been a common theme in their family.  Lelah on the other hand at around 40, has escaped an abusive relationship, with a daughter and now granddaughter, and finds comfort in gambling.

At all times there are a lot of things going on with all the family members, but in the background is the main story line – what to do with the Yarrow house, where the roots of this family were sowed over the last 50+ years, now worth only a 10th of the mortgage.  Everyone has their opinion and wheelings and dealings, but what drove me crazy is that Viola, who still owned the home, although unable to occupy it, had no say in the matter.  Her kids all, I’m sure with good intentions, wanted to throw in their two cents.  And nothing was every really accomplished and I felt she was just pushed around and included only when needed, which mad me sad.

Overall, really just a sad, depressing tone.  I felt like not everything was wrapped up in the end and the ending was too abrupt, although I was glad for it to be done.  Maybe if I were from Detroit this book would have more significance to me, but it just left me wanting more.

Thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for allowing me to preview.

Book Description:

A powerful, timely debut, The Turner House marks a major new contribution to the story of the American family.

The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone—and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit’s East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts—and shapes—their family’s future.

Already praised by Ayana Mathis as “utterly moving” and “un-putdownable,” The Turner House brings us a colorful, complicated brood full of love and pride, sacrifice and unlikely inheritances. It’s a striking examination of the price we pay for our dreams and futures, and the ways in which our families bring us home.

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