The Care And Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
The Mothers meets An American Marriage in this dazzling debut novel about mothers and daughters, identity and family, and how the relationships that sustain you can also be the ones that consume you.
The Butler family has had their share of trials—as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest—but nothing prepared them for the literal trial that will upend their lives.
Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will. They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when she and her husband Proctor are arrested, and in a heartbeat the family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace. The worst part is, not even her sisters are sure exactly what happened.
As Althea awaits her fate, Lillian and Viola must come together in the house they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters. What unfolds is a stunning portrait of the heart and core of an American family in a story that is as page-turning as it is important.
Genre: Adult Fiction
Author: Anissa Gray
Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: February 19th 2019
Publishing House: Berkley
Emerging from the depths of human emotions, this debut novel brilliantly captures all the dark and light places a family experiences when tragedy hits. With stunning empathy and intelligence, Anissa Gray explores in alternate voices the portrait of siblings left to pick up the pieces of their oldest sister’s life, as well as confront, heal and overcome their own daemons from the past.
Althea and her husband Proctor are staples in their community. With a strong sense of work ethic, they have devoted their lives to working their restaurant and giving back to charities. All consumed with work, they seemingly raise their two girls on the side. Kim, their oldest daughter has had a difficult relationship with Althea throughout her life. In a teenage outcry for her needs, she is the one that ultimately makes the call that alerts authorities of her parent’s embezzlement schemes.
“She’s never been good to me. She’s always been different with me.”
Proctor and Althea are separated in custody and sentenced with a few years in prison. Their long relationship gives them a sense of hope and something to hold on to as they write each other letters and cling on each other’s words of encouragement and draw from experiences of the past. Each of them grieves differently about what is happening and it takes a physical toll on them both.
"Here in my bunk, that moment presses in on my chest, a weight so heavy I can hardly breathe."
"It’s hard, all of it is. With all the time I’ve been spending out there in Darth Vader Space, I’ve been trying to do this kind of “self-help” thing, trying to focus on what I’m grateful for."
Althea’s sisters Viola and Lillian, along with aging Mother in Law Nai Nai (who is a sweetheart) come together and get Kim and her sister situated. It’s a challenge for all of them, as Kim is resenting her mother still and acting out. At the same time, Viola and Lillian have their own emotional battles of their childhood with Althea to deal with and overcome.
"She looks down into her mug of tea, and I’m thinking about having ‘certain limits’. I’m thinking of how limits become limber. Pliable, when pressed with the thing in you that cries out, endlessly, More, please."
A broken family with good bones has been shaken to the chore and the brink of existence. The ultimate challenge is to come together stronger than ever before. Will they be able to mend the emotional wounds of their past?
"Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off…"
Lessons in owning your mistakes, forgiveness and love. The bond of family can be a challenge, but also rewarding none the less. With only one life to live, play, love, hate and loose, this novel captures the quint essential challenge of balancing it all. Touching on subjects of abuse, eating disorders, aging, grief, loss and rebellion, it navigates the bond of sisterhood through deep and murky waters of the past, present and future.
An absolutely darling novel. As a fan of 'An American Marriage' by Tayari Jones, this book was another bulls-eye read for me. Gray’s beautiful strong voice intelligently captivated with the things unsaid, evoking a lingering need to find out more. I almost read this novel in one sitting…if there wasn’t life interfering with my reading time ;)
I warmly recommend this poignant novel for its beautiful matter inside and out.