My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book offers a wonderful glimpse of the genuine "family dynamic" between a childless aunt and her mentally ill sister's teenage son and adolescent daughter. The characters are quirky but so well fleshed-out that you as the reader cannot help feeling as much compassion for them as if they were real people.
Hattie lacks life direction and does a brilliant, unsentimental job of relaying her self-doubts to the reader. Logan struggles with his mother Min's sickness and his responsibility for his younger sister Thebes in his very fifteen-year-old way, and Thebes is such a lovably bizarre girl that one cannot help but laugh out loud at many of her antics.
Toews treats all of these characters with consistency despite their quirks and their development throughout the novel, a commendable feat for an author writing any story, never mind a story concerning a spontaneous road trip to find a mentally ill woman's estranged husband.
Readers in all walks of life are likely to appreciate different aspects of this book, but all equally so, and none less than I did. I hope to read more equally ipressive works by Toews, regardless of what the NY Times has to say. (Although I will admit the one point in the book that did irk me a bit was Hattie's complete disregard for money--and the lack of consequences for all the characters' frivilous spending. In the real world, people have to worry about money. But I blame Toews' editor; he/she should have caught that.