Synopses & Reviews
Some families appear destined for catastrophe: 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. So, 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 cute as it may be, for example, that Logan is infatuated with acerbic New York Times Magazine interviewer Deborah Solomon, and charming as Thebes's hip-hop vernacular is, she's in danger of becoming their surrogate parent. She decides to take the kids in the family van to go 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 through chaos as diverse as their personalities discover one another to be both far crazier and far more normal than any of them thought.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A brilliantly emulsified mix of repression and humor, punctuated by bursts of real emotion.... [The Flying Troutmans] builds its complexity so subtly and imperceptibly that the inevitable sense of deep engagement feels almost like sleight of hand." Quill & Quire (starred review)
"Toews 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." Booklist
"Engaging, humorous, grim, and redemptive, this is essential reading." Library Journal
"[P]lays out more or less as if Little Miss Sunshine were, well, a Lou Reed song instead of a Sundance-fave indie flick.... This saga of bad luck and good company is a wry, scary, heartfelt ode to the traverses we have to make in life when we're at the end of our rope and there's no net below us." Ben Dickinson, Elle
"Fantastic... Toews is a master at conveying the crushing potential of conversation, with all of its unfortunate pauses and stutters and double meanings." Kevin Sampsell, The Oregonian
As the Troutmans journey across the United States in search of their father — and experience chaos as diverse as their personalities — they discover one another to be both far crazier and far more normal than any of them had thought.
About the Author
Miriam Toews is the award-winning author of several novels. She lives in Winnipeg, Canada.
Review A Day
"Miriam Toews saunters along the line between comedy and grief as if she might lose her balance at any moment. But she never does. The precarious tone of her novels about fractured families is the crafted effect of a nimble writer. Raised by Mennonites in a small Canadian town, Toews has developed an irresistible sense of absurdity leavened with real affection for the quirky characters who inhabit her stories." Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World
(read the entire Washington Post Book World review