Review: FAMILY TREE: THE NOVEL, by Andrea Carr
For Synchronized Chaos Literary Magazine
By Tony Longshanks LeTigre
“I wanted the sense of camaraderie I felt in jail,” Angel Harper confides in us a little less than half way through this slim, yet emotionally supercharged novella. Harper’s older sister, Lady, has always had self-control issues, but her sudden suicide comes as a shock to Angel, who spends the ensuing days and weeks attempting to trace the factors that led to this tragedy. Her mother, a beautiful but unforgiving and emotionally repressed (and repressive) woman arranges Angel’s release from jail, but what seems a respite and return to freedom ends up “out of the frying pan, into the familial inferno.” As Angel tells us (p. 29), in a passage to which some readers will no doubt relate:
‘How do you say your family is a bunch of crazies who do the best they can? When and how do you bring it up?’ I asked [my little brother Philip]. He laughed; I felt better. They are not retard or schizophrenic-crazy, everyone appears handsome & pleasant to outsiders. That’s what’s crazy about us.’
Carr has a way of transcribing the complex thoughts of her narrator by piling one short, pithy sentence upon another in a way that sometimes looks confusing at first, but ends up ringing true: emotions, we feel, do pour out of us in these dizzying bursts, our mental processes do happen in this haphazard fashion, like socks when they first come out of the dryer at the laundromat, before they are sorted and paired.
Though heavy and largely dark in tone and subject matter, there are patches of light and laughter that break through, and we are glad Angel manages to find some solace, a sense of closure in the end that can come from the grief process. It seems, in a way, her sister’s death is not entirely in vain, in that it makes the difficult relations with her family slightly less so, for a time. We wish Angel the best, and wish we could give a warm and compassionate hug to the author, as well, if (as one suspects) she has gone through something like this in her own life.
Family Tree The Novel: Family Tree is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Family-Tree-Novel-family-tree-ebook/dp/B00HAKQB5Q/