The Turner House
Author: Angela Flournoy
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2015)
Hardcover Edition: 338 pages
Source: Personal copy
This story of the Turner Family with its thirteen siblings and their semi-abandoned house on Yarrow Street in Detroit, where the family had lived for fifty years, catches the reader like a well-baited fishing line and doesn’t let go even after the last page is finished. Each character is carefully detailed, never boring. The incidents, and changes flow and jerk like the river of real-life.
Family and the family home are universal themes to the story. Set in Detroit with its fading neighborhoods, the story highlights the difficulties of life in the city and something of the particulars of life as part of a large African-American family. And yet, the observations are often universal to family life and an ailing matriarch no matter the ethnicity or culture.
This young author is exceedingly talented. The book earned the status of National Book Award Finalist. She examines the environment and the inner and outer lives of the thirteen siblings as well as the effect of being part of a very large family. Insightful and entertaining dialogue is a strength of her writing, and there are many others. It’s a dynamic book. Never did the author’s research seem like documentary. Each sentence served the story. She writes with humor and charm.
Family is often a powerful theme and this story is no exception. Myths and stories, truth and lies cause friction yet tie family members closely together. This is a generous and humane portrait of a family of characters who seem so real you want to meet them and know just how they are faring a few years down their life road. They are fun and unforgettable.