All in the Family: 3 Books that Explore the Ties that Bind

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There’s no getting around it—as we build toward the holidays we’re going to have to spend at least some time with family. To put it all in perspective we have three books about families in emotional crisis. There’s nothing like peeking at someone else’s family drama to appreciate your own family.

This week’s recommendations are brought to us by Jill Miner, owner of Saturn Booksellers, a popular independent bookstore that has won the Michigan Retailer of the Year Award for small businesses and the local Chamber of Commerce’s Golden Pineapple Award for Best Customer Service.

The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro (Algonquin Books, November 3, 2015)

TheMuralist“During Roosevelt’s WPA program, artists were put to work creating large-scale pieces for public spaces. The group that became known as the Abstract Expressionists (Pollack, Rothko, Krasner and the like) are Alizee Benoit’s coworkers and friends, creating murals for libraries, schools and train stations.  And, in many ways, they are her family.  But Alizee’s real family, her European Jewish family, is writing increasingly frantic letters, imploring the artist to somehow get them safe passage to America.

“This novel is powerful on so many levels; lovers of art, of mysteries, of historical fiction, of wartime stories and of strong characters risking everything for love of their families should find a place on their bookshelves for The Muralist.”


Home Is ******* Burning: A Memoir by Dan Marshall (Flatiron Books, October 20, 2015)

HomeIsBurning“When I tell customers that Marshall’s story about being called home by his cancer-battling mother when his father is diagnosed with ALS is hilarious, I get some skeptical looks.  But then I urge them to think about all of the best books they’ve read; didn’t they laugh, cry and feel so moved that they remembered those books much, much later?  To a one, the customers who’ve returned to talk about this extraordinary memoir of battling the unimaginable with humor and profanity — lots of profanity — have agreed.  They laughed.  They cried.  They remember.”



Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (Riverhead Books, 2015)

FatesAndFuries“This novel is about a golden couple. First we learn how The Fates brought them together and elevated them to ‘It Couple’ status. And then come The Furies. And beneath the gilt veneer, we see the fissures and fault lines of a terribly flawed marriage. Groff draws from classical themes to create a masterful work exploring the faces our families present to the world and the faces only our family members can see. Like a true literary fairy tale, the Fates and Furies impart the moral of its story—the grass isn’t always greener.  Sometimes, in fact, it might not even be grass.”

figured it all out too late. He got his degree in Psychology and realized years later that he wanted to write for a living. He now has 16+ years of digital and print journalism experience and currently entertains an ongoing love affair with the greatest literary classics (he savored every page of "War and Peace" and thought it could've been longer, and he will finish Proust's "In Search of Lost Time"). He also loves crossword puzzles, tennis, the outdoors, and working on numerous novels. One of these days, one will get picked up...and when it does, the world will make a little more sense.

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