Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews (Jill)

The Flying Troutmans
By Miriam Toews
Completed January 8, 2010

Imagine you’re a 28-year-old women, facing a break-up with your Parisian boyfriend, and getting an urgent call from your mentally ill sister: Please come to Manitoba and take care of the kids. This was the case for young Hattie and the beginning of the family saga, The Flying Troutmans.

Hattie was a good aunt but didn’t have much maternal instinct. 15-year-old Logan was moody – torn between wanting love and affection, and giving the world the finger. His sister, Thebes, was percocious, artistic and loveable. Together, they committed Min to a psychiatric hospital, climbed into their van and headed to South Dakota, then California, to search for the kids’ father. Secretly, Hattie didn’t think she could take care of the the kids and hoped that their father could help out.

With the road as their guide, the three learned about each other. Hattie fumbled her way through managing Logan’s moods and Thebes’ constant talking. They collectively and privately worried about Min, who we learn more about through Hattie’s childhood stories. On the surface, Hattie, Logan and Thebes seemed to be three distinct pieces; however, as the story ended, they learned their connection as family and love for Min was enough to hold them together.

Miriam Toews carefully crafted a story that showed how family members live with a mentally ill family member, and her choice of dialogue and characters were spot on. As you get to know the characters, you start to care for them. Toews chose a very youthful narrative and dialogue style, and I wonder how The Flying Troutmans could impact a young adult audience. For any reader, this book was quick and quirky – certainly not without flaws – but if you love the proverbial family road trip story, then this is the book for you. ( )

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I checked this one out from the library a few months ago then found it at B&N for $2 so I went ahead and bought it. But I still haven't gotten to it--now I'm anxious to dig it out!