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The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

The Turner House (2015)

by Angela Flournoy

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4793821,531 (3.84)72



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Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
Enjoyable, easy read

I think this is a good story about family life. There isn't anything unusually dramatic. The family members have various challenges that can be seen in other families throughout the USA. I like reading histories, even fictional, and trying to figure out what spurs people to do the things they do. The characters are normal people each with their human strengths and weaknesses. Why they do what they do isn't completely revealed but isn't that life. Some people try to figure it out but never quite do as people are constantly changing and others just take it as it is without a second thought..
The novel touched a bit on the urban situation. Its depressing to think about, due to the feeling of helplessness on the matter, but that's life in Detroit where the novel is set.
There were a couple grammatical errors that the editors did not catch. If they're obvious enough for me to see that's really saying something.
I did enjoy reading it. It didn't send me into deep thought, but there were moments in the women's lives that made me think why do women do the things they do for their families? Why do they need to fulfill this "obligation"? It seems that Francey was the only one who seemed to break free of the role. Tina is a classic martyr and at age 60 she finally breaks, albeit temporarily. Its not examined in the book, I just recognize it in women in general. ( )
  lnuenke | Apr 21, 2017 |
Cha-Cha saw a ghost when he was a child, and the ghost (a haint) haunts him to this day. The Turners' have lived on Yarrow Street since 1951 and The Turner House tracks Viola and her husband Francis while Viola believes she's an abandoned mother in Texas (from 1945-1951) and her children and grandchildren as Detroit falls apart (where the Turners' grew up and return to for the annual birthday party (primarily for Viola, but they celebrate all the June birthdays then, too).

The Turner House tracks the Turner family's ups and downs; flirting with bankruptcy, gambling, alcohol addiction, and perhaps insanity, but shows that they all love each other in spite of it all. ( )
  minxcr1964 | Apr 5, 2017 |
Meet the Turners. Huge family of thirteen, Detroit based, into that transition of becoming fully the adults, as their mother's health fails. The old family house is in a neighborhood that is beyond being in a decline, one of the few houses still standing and liveable. But the mother, Viola, has had a stroke and has been moved into her oldest son's house and now the house is now empty. There's a hefty mortgage shackled to it. The oldest son, Cha-Cha wants to get rid of it in a short sale, others want to keep it, one of them schemes to secretly buy it . . . And it is clear that whatever is going to happen to the house is closely allied to what will become of the cohesiveness of this generation of Turners. Being so many, the children reflect almost every possibility, of lifestyle, character, and career--and all of them have kept enough together to stay out of prison and "real" trouble - for which they have their parents, that house, and maybe their oldest siblings to thank. As one from a very large family, I loved the dynamics between siblings, which transcends ethnicity, believe me. I was also impressed by Flournoy's ability to write so empathetically and correctly about caring for someone in the last phase of life and generally about such a wide variety of characters. There were one or two I would love to know more about -- Tony, the son who was scheming to get the house illegally (and a policeman!) and Lelah who has a gambling problem and loves her daughter perhaps a bit too possessively . . . but that's a good thing, closing the last page and wishing there was more. **** ( )
  sibyx | Feb 16, 2017 |
The Short of It:

What makes a house a home?

The Rest of It:

The house on Yarrow Street, once a thriving hub for thirteen children in the middle of Detroit’s crumbling East Side, has seen its members come and go for over fifty years. Now, falling apart and worth much less than what they paid for it, the family is forced to sell it back to the bank.

I really enjoyed this flawed family. Granted, there are a lot of characters in this story to keep track of and I’m not sure that all of their stories were as interesting as some, but the gambling addiction of the youngest sibling was particularly interesting to me as was the “haint” or ghostly apparition that the oldest sibling grew up with.

When you’ve lived in a house for as long as the Turners have, it’s impossible to not have feelings about it even when the neighborhood around it has gone to hell. And how many times have we been willing to let something go only to change our minds once the sale sign is up? It just seems so final, right?

That is the case here but this isn’t a sad, sappy story about losing a home. It’s much more subtle in the telling. Flournoy focuses on the flaws of each family member, allowing the reader to get to know them a little, see the home from their eyes, walk in their shoes, etc.

For me, it took me a little while to get into the story but once I did, I found that I really enjoyed it. It was a National Book Award finalist and extremely well-received when it debuted. Have you read it?

For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter. ( )
  tibobi | Jan 12, 2017 |
I liked this one and enjoyed this family. A good family story of siblings, African American growing up in Detroit. A ToB 2016 short list contender. Not a winner but a good story never the less. I liked the characters and the story was engaging. ( )
  Kristelh | Dec 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
That Flournoy’s main characters are black is central to this book, and yet her treatment of that essential fact is never essentializing. Flournoy gets at the universal through the patient observation of one family’s particulars. In this assured and memorable novel, she provides the feeling of knowing a family from the inside out, as we would wish to know our own.
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, MATTHEW THOMAS (Apr 29, 2015)
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The Negro offers a feather-bed resistance. That is, we let the probe enter, but it never comes out. It gets smothered under a lot of laughter and pleasantries.
—Zora Neale Hurston, Mules and Men
Out of the gray hills,
Of industrial barns, out of rain, out of bus ride,
West Virginia to Kiss My Ass, out of buried aunties,
Mothers hardening like pounded stumps, out of stumps,
Out of the bones' need to sharpen and the muscles' to stretch,
They Lion grow.
—Philip Levine, "They Feed They Liion"
For my parents,
Francine Dunbar Harper
and Marvin Bernard Flournoy,
for being real
In loving memory of Ella Mae Flournoy,
who saw more than I can make up
and loved more than I can imagine
First words
The eldest six of Francis and Viola Turner's thirteen children claimed that the big room of the house on Yarrow Street was haunted for at least one night. A ghost—a haint, if you will—tried to pull Cha-Cha out of the big room's second-story window.
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Book description
Haiku summary
Viola, Francis 
Raise thirteen. Detroit home.
Raze, sell, or keep?


Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0544303164, Hardcover)

A powerful, timely debut, The Turner House marks a major new contribution to the story of the American family.

The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone—and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit’s East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts—and shapes—their family’s future.

Already praised by Ayana Mathis as “utterly moving” and “un-putdownable,” The Turner House brings us a colorful, complicated brood full of love and pride, sacrifice and unlikely inheritances. It’s a striking examination of the price we pay for our dreams and futures, and the ways in which our families bring us home.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:04 -0400)

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