I picked up this book because when it first came out, there was a lot of buzz about it on Twitter. See, building buzz does help! Proving that my job has purpose 😛
This novel was both a blessing and a curse; a ‘blurse’ if you will, as the Weird siblings like to say. It was a relief to read a story that was so fully focused on nothing but family ties. There were no big romantic subplots. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good love story. I’m a sucker for those comedic romantic gestures and heaving bosoms (ours, not theirs because that would be cliched) and happy endings. But once in awhile, it’s nice to get a reprieve and just enjoy something that goes a different direction. Therein lies the blessing. The curse? It was so…sad(ish)! You won’t be sobbing tears or wishing you had bought more Kleenex, but it does make you feel a bit heavy.
The five Weird siblings were all blessed with a curse upon their births. Richard was blursed with the ability to always be safe. Lucy was blursed with the ability to never get lost. Kent was blursed with physical strength. Abba was blursed with the ability to hope. Angie was blursed with the ability to forgive. While all of these sound like nothing but blessings, they were actually huge downfalls. Richard self-preserved by never letting himself get hurt, which meant he was emotionally detached from everyone he could have cared about. Lucy wandered aimlessly because she knew she would never truly be lost. Kent, well he’s just an angry man. Angie let everyone walk all over her because she had the ability to forgive everything. And Abba, poor Abba. To quote a wise man, “It does not do to dwell in dreams and forget to live”. Replace dreams with unending hope and that’s what I wish I could say to Abba.
So when the five of them finally get the chance to lift their curses, it’s a race against time and a struggle to be cordial after not speaking to each other for several years. I thought Kaufman did a great job of portraying the chemistry between the siblings, which is funny because a friend of mine who read it said she couldn’t relate to it. I’m the single child and she’s the one with three brothers, so maybe I’m just missing the reality check. Either way, the interaction between them from start to finish was my favourite part of the book. There were so many factors that made each individual broken–from the mysterious loss of their father, to their mother’s inability (or unwillingness) to recognize any of them, to the pressure their blurses put on their everyday lives. They were desperate individuals and their inner demons really struck through the pages. Being reunited for this cause was only the beginning of their journey, and it was heartwarming to watch them evolve.
So let me rephrase. It was not a ‘sad’ book, but it’s not a laugh-out-loud, feel-lighter-than-a-feather book either. It is, however, a quick and touching read.