After recently reviewing some nonfiction I didn’t really enjoy, I was looking forward to having a quick fictional novel to review, and found that in Family Tree: The Novel by Andrea Carr. At only 86 pages and so more like a novella, I was happy to pick this one up and give it a go. Unfortunately, the length was probably one of the best things about this book.
I really don’t understand what is going on. Once again, I’m disliking a book that rates highly on Goodreads. Am I reading a different book to everyone else? Perhaps I am reading the first draft. That latter thought actually entered my mind several times as I read this novel; it honestly felt like a very early draft to me.
The book begins with Angel Harper, who is in jail, discovering that one of her sisters has committed suicide. She gets a pass from jail to allow her to attend the funeral. She argues with her mum and doesn’t even bother to attend the funeral. She goes back to jail to finish her sentence. Done.
Not only did I feel there was no depth in terms of story, I felt the characters were very poorly written and underdeveloped. Angel has a very strange voice. She sounds so much like an annoying teenager, but she is, I imagine, in her 20s at least because she has a child who sounds around ten or so. Actually, he sounds more mature than his mother… The character names also leave much to be desired: a brother called Brother and a sister called Sister.
The novel was filled with poor writing all the way through, with some examples below:
- Having the main character tell us that she was holding in her tears ‘literally choking’ herself.
- Angel looks forward to her son visiting her in jail, but as soon as he’s there she ‘wanted this visit over with the second it started’.
- ‘Her offer seemed genuine – out of concern the way black people feel deep and show emotion, like really good actors.’ I tried to figure this sentence out for ages before I moved on. What does it even mean?!
- She talks about being sentenced for 45 days and elsewhere it says 60 days. Actually, why do I even care?
- The use of the word ‘retarded’ by the narrator. Really?
- Telling us that her son was born with skin cancer (which a Google search tells me is extremely rare, by the way) seemed very odd. Actually, all the way through the book there were random, unconnected pieces of information just dumped.
- ‘I like Dwight; he is so comfortable with himself in spite of being gay’. SHEESH! I can’t begin to tell you how much this kind of thing annoyed me. It’s the narrator, not a piece of dialogue, and just made me want to scream.
- More random info from the narrator… ‘Cookie reminded me of someone I knew, I just couldn’t remember who’. Who gives a toss?!
I am sorry but novels written as badly as this really get under my skin. I truly feel that the author needed an editor to slash and burn a lot of content and ask the author to draw compassion and emotion from the reader by developing existing plotlines instead of randomly inserting crap so the reader ends up caring about nothing.
Again, I don’t know what other people on Goodreads got out of this, as I just can’t understand the depth they apparently saw. I’m very sorry. *shakes head*
Family Tree: The Novel by Andrea Carr: 0.5 out of 5 stars.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.