Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Family Tree Book Review

Family Tree Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky

My review

rating: 1 of 5 stars
I first learned about this book while reading a "Reading Group Guide" and I thought to myself that this was an intriguing story: a white couple have an African American baby. The husband is a Boston blue blood (Hugh) and his wife (Dana) doesn't know anything about her father. Well, you all know that I rarely give anything below a "3" for a book rating, but this novel (if you can call it a novel) by Barbara Delinsky was not ready for prime time. In fact, my clients' manuscripts that I'm currently editing are head over heals better. Why was this book so bad? It was almost all expository dialogue, there was too much repetition (this is called chewing the food for the reader), the characters were cardboard cut-outs, the plot skirted deep-seated issues of race and family in favor of taking the easy way out: our couple get together at the end and the wife finds her father and everyone loves the baby and themselves even more with the big "discovery" at the end.

Almost everyone in my book club hated this book and one member said, "It was the Nancy Drew for moms!" Meaning that Dana hustled her newborn baby with her everywhere and was full of energy and zip. However, all of us agreed that Delinsky captured the world of the knitter very well, thus showing what it means to build emotional ties with women. Of course, knitting is a metaphor for mixed blood. Here's a ham-fisted example of Delinsky's dialogue (p. 302):

Saundra fingered the hem of the shawl. "You do a beautiful job. This is perfect wool."

"It's part alpaca, part silk." (Dana said)

"Alpaca for warmth, silk for strength and sheen -- it takes the best from both. There's something to be said about blends, you know?"

ARRGHHH -- give me a break!

Many of the book club members also wondered why Delinsky was pushing so hard to get into the book club market -- who was she really writing for? I want to believe that most readers in book clubs wouldn't like this book, but I could be wrong. It's not literary fiction and it's not a romance. In fact, if it hadn't been our book club selection for May, Family Tree would stil be on my shelf with a bookmark stuck on page 25.

If you've read this book, please share your opinion with me!

View all my reviews.

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