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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Book Review: Family by Micol Ostow

Reading Level: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 26, 2011
Pages: 336
Series: no
Acquisition: received ARC for review

i have always been broken.
i could have. died.
and maybe it would have been better if i had.
It is a day like any other when seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen hits the road for San Francisco, leaving behind her fractured home life and a constant assault on her self-esteem. Henry is the handsome, charismatic man who comes upon her, collapsed on a park bench, and offers love, a bright new consciousness, and—best of all—a family. One that will embrace her and give her love. Because family is what Mel has never really had. And this new family, Henry’s family, shares everything. They share the chores, their bodies, and their beliefs.  And if Mel truly wants to belong, she will share in everything they do. No matter what the family does, or how far they go.
Told in episodic verse, family is a fictionalized exploration of cult dynamics, loosely based on the Manson Family murders of 1969. It is an unflinching look at people who are born broken, and the lengths they’ll go to to make themselves “whole” again. (from Goodreads)

My thoughts:
I've never read a book told in episodic verse before. I didn't even know what episodic verse was before picking up Family. I think I've been missing out on something here. It's amazing that by using fewer words, Micol Ostow as managed to tell more story.

Family is exactly what the synopsis says it is. A story in verse based loosely on the Manson Family murders of 1969. The story itself is tragic, but it's the emotion behind the story that really needs to be told. It's the emotion that leaps off the pages and stays with you. Gets inside your head and makes you understand just how this tragic story came to be.

Beautifully told. I felt like I was reading a diary or a autobiography rather then a work of fiction.  Very raw, which lead to the feeling that this story could be true. Maybe it was true for a some young girl once.

At no time did I feel hatred for Melinda even though it was very obvious that she was putting herself in a bad situation. Micol managed to not only make me feel a deep emotion for Melinda and her troubles but also a deep understanding. The horrors of what she went through and what she did are just that - horrible. But I understood how she got there and why she couldn't walk away.

A powerful story and by far, one of my favorite works of young adult fiction read this year.

Overall Rating:
5 / 5 Stars

Linkage Love:
Author's Website


  1. This is one of a few I am actally anxiously waiting to read. Can't wait (heard Micol speak on a panel recently and she was terrific!). Now you've made me want to read it more.


  2. IT looks like a really interesting book. I'm really curious now. I had never heard of it before.

  3. I only heard about this book a week or so ago, but I really want to read it. I've been getting more and more into verse novels and since I'm always up for a dark story, I think I'll have to pick up Family when it comes out.

  4. I need to read this one! It fascinates me on so many levels! I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed it!


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