Wednesday, August 31, 2011 Posted by Dina N
Despite her name, Keats Sedlak is the sanest person in her large, nutty family of brilliant eccentrics. Her parents, both brainy academics, are barely capable of looking after themselves, let alone anyone else, and her two uber-intelligent siblings live on their own planets.
At least she can count on one person in her life, her devoted boyfriend Tom. Down-to-earth and loving, he's the one thing that's kept Keats grounded for the last decade. But when Keats's mother makes a surprise announcement, the entire family is sent into a tailspin. For the first time, Keats can't pick up the pieces by herself. Now she must reevaluate everything she's ever assumed about herself and her family - and make the biggest decision of her life.
Many people discover at some point - teenage years, anyone? - that we can choose our friends but not our relatives. If learning to accept that is a sign of maturity, then 25-year old Keats Sedlak has a long way to go at the beginning of this book. Of course, she has it harder than most. In addition to being named after an English romantic poet - his LAST name, on top of that - she comes from a family of socially maladjusted genius. Keats is beautiful, smart and kind but in her family, she feels inferior and out of place. Her personal act of rebellion against the brains and expectations of that family is working a job that's far beneath her abilities and living with a boyfriend she met when she was 15.
Keats has always been the problem-solver in her family. She feels she is being served more than her usual share of challenges when her mother files for divorce, her father becomes sick, and her brother refuses to leave the house their mother has decided to sell. Keats is trying to find a way to help everyone survive the crisis but she quickly realizes she must add herself to the list.
Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts is a charming novel that I could not put down. Keats is a likable character who is not perfect but she is certainly a fast learner. Her journey to adulthood and to accepting her family is long and uneven, in equal parts emotionally charged and funny. The book is a tribute to family and friendship as much as a coming-of-age story of choices and consequences, and I loved every word.
Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts is new this week from 5 Spot, a division of Hachette Book Group. Author Claire LaZebnik's previous books include The Smart One and the Pretty One, Knitting Under the Influence and If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now - all three now on my to-read list.
One lucky U.S. reader will win Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts!
To enter, please comment below if you've read anything by Claire LaZebnik, or tell us if you ever felt different from everyone else in your family.
This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winner, #103 Anonymous!
Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation - monetary or in kind - has been obtained for this post. Cover art and book description courtesy of the publisher or PR firm.