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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Did You Ever Have a Family? by Bill Clegg

This is the first novel by the author, and the book was long listed for the Booker Prize, so a great accomplishment in and of itself.  It is a story about a community of people connected by either love or family to a tragic event.  The book shifts from one voice to another in the aftermath of a house having exploded on the morning of a wedding.  June is the mother of the bride, and she survives the explosion, but her much younger lover, Luke, does not, nor does her daughter, who was the bride.  For complicated reasons, she vanishes and does not answer those who try to contact her.  Luke’s mother has a complicated relationship with June and her own path through grief is explored.  The other characters that have a voice in the book reveal what lies behind the events that set the cascade of events in motion. 
The best part of the book is the exploration of the ties that bind parents and children.  The mothers who have lost their children had imperfect relationship with their offspring.  In different ways, the mothers have favored the men in their lives over the best interests of their children, and can serve as life lessons to parents who want to do things that are in the best interest of their offspring.

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