I wanted to mention I just finished a deeply thoughtful and thought-provoking novel, Strangers at the Feast.
I’ve been feeling very dissatisfied with science fiction lately. I pick up books at the library that seem good or that have been recommended. And half are returned unfinished. Probably more than half.
Not so this book by Jennifer Vanderbes. I was hooked from the start, and as her narrative unfolds on Thanksgiving Day in 2007, flashbacks to the life histories of most of the eight adult characters fill in the gaps and leave the reader with a combination of understanding/insight and sometimes even more questions.
There’s a burglary and holiday meal, both badly bungled. It seems like the white people right their ship as the young hoods find their effort slipping away. But most all of it comes unraveled, in a very horrific yet perfectly understandable way.
Family life, generations misunderstanding one another, bad finances, emotional distance, and the nature of evolving marriages all come into play in a poignant way. One theme that plays out in many ways is how adults lose their children. Maybe not the kind of stuff I wanted to read as I deal with an adolescent daughter, but serious food for thought–at least for me.
If you’re a sucker for happy endings, you may not like the ending. But from the first pages, you’ll be drawn in to the family story of the Olsons. I found it hard to put this book down. It’s a feast of plotting and characterization.