Family by Micol Ostow
EgmontUSA, April 26, 2011
Read for YA Contemps Challenge and A-Z Reading Challenge
Summary from Goodreads:
i have always been broken. i could have. died.Tell me that cover doesn't freak you out? Love it. At the time I'm writing this post, Micol Ostow is using the book cover as her profile picture, and it weirds me out a little every time I see it. Fun stuff, I tell you.
and maybe it would have been better if i had.
It is a day like any other when seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen hits the road for San Francisco, leaving behind her fractured home life and a constant assault on her self-esteem. Henry is the handsome, charismatic man who comes upon her, collapsed on a park bench, and offers love, a bright new consciousness, and best of all a family. One that will embrace her and offer love. Because family is what Mel has never really had. And this new family, Henry’s family, shares everything. They share the chores, their bodies, and their beliefs. And if Mel truly wants to belong, she will share in everything they do. No matter what the family does, or how far they go.
Told in episodic verse, family is a fictionalized exploration of cult dynamics, loosely based on the Manson Family murders of 1969. It is an unflinching look at people who are born broken, and the lengths they’ll go to to make themselves “whole” again.
Now, the story. I'm only vaguely familiar with the Manson murders, but I assumed that, this being a fictionalized account, you shouldn't really need that much background info. I was able to understand the story, but, like I said, I kind of knew what I was getting into. A random teen who's never heard of Charles Manson or doesn't know much about life in 1969 San Francisco will have a difficult time relating to this story. Even after spending time reading about the Manson murders on the Internet, I'm still not sure I understand what all went down.
Melinda has a wretched home life, with a passive mother and an abusive "uncle," and makes the decision to run away. Henry (the Manson character) finds her and takes her under his proverbial wing with the rest of his "family." Now, Henry isn't some ordinary guy--apparently the women of his family feel that He's the 1969 version of Jesus Christ. See what I did there? The only capitals used throughout this entire book are Henry, He, His, Him, etc. He's that important.
I don't really get why He's so revered by this group of people. It might be because the women He's chosen are broken in some way, and this family is the closest they've ever come to a real one. It might be because Henry exudes charm and charisma, and is easy on the eyes. Or, it just might be the tons and tons of drugs everyone's doing.
Regardless, His word is law, even if it's a weird law. I totally get why and how Melinda ended up with this cult, and her voice rings true throughout the story. I'm just not sure that teens will be able to relate to her, or the plot. It's a great story for those who have some knowledge of the history, though!
ARC received from publisher.
Enjoy your reading!