The flying Troutmans

Miriam Toews, 1964-

Book - 2008

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FICTION/Toews, Miriam
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Subjects
Published
Berkeley, CA : Counterpoint : Distributed by Publishers Group West 2008.
Language
English
Physical Description
275 p.
ISBN
9781582434391
1582434395
Main Author
Miriam Toews, 1964- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Is suicide a choice or a foregone conclusion? When Hattie rushes home to Canada, she is not exactly perturbed by the sight of her sister, who has been languishing in a sickly stew of depression. As Hattie acknowledges, Min's been traveling in two opposite directions at once, towards infancy and death since forever, and it is Hattie's job to pick up the pieces. After tenderly depositing her sister in the psych ward, Hattie surveys the scene at home featuring Thebes, the eccentric, purple-haired 11-year-old with a penchant for hyperbole and hip-hop vernacular, and Logan, the staunchly silent yet preternaturally wise teenage nephew. A fear of social workers sparks Hattie to pack the minivan and take her sister's kids west on an off-kilter road trip. Destination: their long-lost father. Misadventures, many very funny, plague the scarred but resilient Troutmans. Toews (A Complicated Kindness, 2004) excels here at comedic sophistication, all while masterfully embedding explorations of madness, truth, and the immense sorrow that comes from caring for someone who is derailed by mania's devious tug. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

The Troutman world is falling apart—again. Mentally ill Min is bed-ridden and suffering from paranoid delusions; her 15-year-old son, Logan, is in trouble at school; and her 11-year-old daughter, Thebes, is trying and failing to hold it all together. Enter a reluctant and clueless Aunt Hattie, recently dumped by her boyfriend in the City of Light, and the stage is set for this latest book by Toews (Boy of Good Breeding ). After the suicidal Min is carried to the hospital, Hattie decides to take the kids on a road trip across the Canadian border into America to find the children's AWOL father. The odyssey is laced with moments of grief and dotted with the quirky places, people, and incidents one might expect to find on a circuitous journey through the hinterlands of the vast American West. Ultimately, the long road leads to the beginning of healing and the faith and strength to keep carrying on. Engaging, humorous, grim, and redemptive, this is essential reading; recommended for public libraries.—Jyna Scheeren, Troy P.L., NY [Page 123]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

A road novel helped along by a lovably nutty cast, Toews's latest (after A Complicated Kindness ) follows a ragtag crew as they crisscross America. Hattie, recently dumped in Paris by her "moody, adjective-hating boyfriend," returns home to Canada after receiving an emergency phone call from her niece. Turns out, Hattie's sister, Min, is back in the psych ward, and her kids, 11-year-old Thebes and 15-year-old Logan, are fending for themselves. Thus the quirky trio—purple-haired, wise-beyond-her-years Thebes, recently expelled brother Logan and overwhelmed Hattie—embark on a road trip to the States to find the kids' long-missing father. What follows is a Little Miss Sunshine –like quest in which the characters learn about themselves and each other as they weather car repairs, sleazy motel rooms and encounters with bizarre people. Toews's gift for writing precocious children and the story's antic momentum redeem the familiar set-up, and if the ending feels a bit rushed, it's largely because it's tough to let Toews's characters go. (Oct.) [Page 136]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Follow the Troutmans as they learn about themselves and each other through chaos as diverse as their personalities, while embarking on a journey across the United States weathering sleazy motel rooms, car repairs, and bizarre people.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Meet the Troutmans. Hattie’s boyfriend has just dumped her, her sister Min’s back in the psych ward, and Min’s kids, Logan and Thebes, are not talking and talking way too much, respectively. Then there’s the past, in which Min tried to kill Hattie once and to kill herself a lot, in which Min threw the kids’ father out of the house, in which Hattie dropped out of school, in which Logan and his friends kidnapped a friend and drove around town with him in the trunk, and in which Thebes frequently impersonated their insane mom in order to cut class.When Hattie returns to take care of her niece and nephew, she’s rapidly freaked out by the realization that the responsibility is in fact far greater than she’d expected, and she decides to take the kids in the family van to find their father, last heard to be running an idiosyncratic art gallery in South Dakota. What ensues is a remarkable journey across the United States, as aunt and kids discover one another to be both far crazier and far more normal than any of them thought.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Meet the Troutmans. Hattie's boyfriend has just dumped her, her sister Min's back in the psych ward, and Min's kids, Logan and Thebes, are not talking and talking way too much, respectively. Then there's the past, in which Min tried to kill Hattie once and to kill herself a lot, in which Min threw the kids' father out of the house, in which Hattie dropped out of school, in which Logan and his friends kidnapped a friend and drove around town with him in the trunk, and in which Thebes frequently impersonated their insane mom in order to cut class.When Hattie returns to take care of her niece and nephew, she's rapidly freaked out by the realization that the responsibility is in fact far greater than she'd expected, and she decides to take the kids in the family van to find their father, last heard to be running an idiosyncratic art gallery in South Dakota. What ensues is a remarkable journey across the United States, as aunt and kids discover one another to be both far crazier and far more normal than any of them thought.