Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Haint No Stopping Us Now: The Turner House

I started The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy, sometime over my winter break when I was trying to read 12 books in 24 days. I also started a metric ton of other books, so it took me a little longer to read this than I'd anticipated. At times, I also found myself reading slowly and stretching it out because I was enjoying it and wasn't ready to be done.

The Turners, Viola and Francis, have 13 children and raise them in Detroit. As the book opens, Viola is getting up in age and losing her independence. The Turners' house sits empty in a crumbling neighborhood amidst rising crime.

Cha Cha, the oldest of the Turner kids takes care of everything whether his siblings always appreciate that or not. He and his wife Tina take care of his mother, and when it's time to decide what to do with the family home, Cha Cha is not so fond of being the patriarch.

The book bounces around from various perspectives: Cha Cha, dealing with the fallout from an accident at his job, seeing a therapist, and haunted by a haint, or restless spirit; Lelah, the youngest of the Turner siblings, newly evicted with a gambling addiction; Troy, a police officer who resents Cha Cha; Viola and Francis when they were young, separated by distance, struggling,  and Cha Cha was the only child.

My favorite thing about this book was the narrative voice. It felt comfortable, easy to settle in, and the individual characters, as well as the setting, were vivid. It was quirky, charming, but there were also a lot of heavier themes at play. The supernatural element, as well as the rotating perspectives, really kept this one moving, and while I usually don't like rotating narrators, this one suited me just fine.

By the end, it did buckle a bit. While I continued to love all of the wonder things I mentioned above, it got cluttered. I think it could've been more cohesive, even if it had to be a little longer to flesh out some of the latter chapters.

Angela Flournoy is a formidable voice, and even though this book let me down just the tiniest bit at the end, I'll read anything she writes.





20 comments:

  1. I never got to this last year, but it keeps piquing my interest every time I see it...including your review.

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    1. I hope you enjoy it if you get around to it!

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  2. I think I would love the Turner family but I'm not sure about the supernatural element.

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    1. I don't think the supernatural part would bother you. For the most part it's very realistic. Cha Cha thinks he sees a ghost at times, but it could be nothing and it's not the main thrust of his part of the story.

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  3. Ah, good to know about the voice. This is on my TBR. I'm going to have to get to it soon.

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  4. It didn't feel like a debut novel to me but most in my book club disagreed. I liked the characters. I thought Cha Cha and his Alice obsession was entertaining! Oh, and the haint! I felt that Lelah was drawn particularly well.

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    1. Wow, really? I thought it seemed much more seasoned than a first novel, too! Cha Cha and Alice cracked me up. I was yelling at him NOT TO DO THE THING. Ack! Lelah was my fave. <3

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  5. I never did manage to read this one; Flournoy participated in the Arkansas Literary Festival last April and I heard her speak (fabulous) about the book. I told myself that I was going to read it, immediately, and then I didn't do it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this one; I may not pick it up, but I'm curious to see what she publishes next and she seems like a wonderful author.

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    1. I definitely cannot wait to see what she does next. Such a great voice!

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  6. Sounds like a great read. Enjoyed your review, Andi!

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  7. My kind of book! Hope to read it soon.

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  8. I'm trying to even remember what happens at the end of the book! I can't remember whether it worked for me or not, at the end. I liked The Turner House so much more than I expected to -- I think it was smart of Flournoy to focus on a few members of the huge family and not worry too much about the others. Her writing was terrific and there was so much stuff she got exactly writing about having a huge family (there's a phone conversation about "the April birthdays" that I swear I have had that exact conversation with my family members). She's awesome, can't wait for her to write more.

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    1. It didn't sound like much from the description, but the characters were soooo much more vibrant and interesting than I'd expected. Definitely agree re: focusing on a few members of the family. It would've been completely overwhelming and sold them short if she'd tried to include everyone.

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  9. So great to see you back and reviewing, Andi! I have this one on my list, sad to know it's disappointing at the end, but hopefully it means there are great things to come from Flournoy!

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    1. Thanks so much, Aarti! It wasn't toooo disappointing. Overall still a good read.

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  10. I'm a fan of multiple narrators, so this sounds interesting to me :)

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    1. I hope you can give it a try!

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