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Tiny Americans: A Novel by Devin Murphy

Tiny Americans: A Novel (edition 2019)

by Devin Murphy (Author)

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2010748,182 (3.83)None
Title:Tiny Americans: A Novel
Authors:Devin Murphy (Author)
Info:Harper Perennial (2019), 256 pages
Collections:Your library

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Tiny Americans by Devin Murphy

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
There is nothing more interesting than a twisted family. Who will do what and when? This family is rendered asunder when three children are abandoned by their father and his odd push toward their hearing the heartbeat of trees and immersing themselves in nature in various ways. Despite their own scattered existence across the country, they all find solace in their own way with nature and within in themselves, and ultimately with their parents. Their drawing together at the end feels almost like watching a sunset. Beautifully written. ( )
  TiffanyHow | Mar 15, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It seems to be a trend to use third person limited narration that rotates amongst two or more characters. It is less common, and perhaps a harder feat, to have those multiple points of view, all from first person narrative perspective. This means that each character's voice must be separate and distinct or the reader risks frustration and uncertainty about the "I" who is directing the story at that moment. In Tiny Americans, Devin Murphy's newest novel, he develops his characters beautifully, making the rotating first person narrative structure seem effortless in this poignant and well-written tale of a dysfunctional family and the roads they travel away from each other and then back again.

Opening in 1978 with Terrance Thurber's attempts to teach his children, Jamie, Lewis, and Connor, about the natural world while trying to get himself sober, the Thurber family's world will soon be altered and re-ordered forever by Terrance's eventual abandonment of home and family. Told in chapters alternating mainly between the 3 siblings, the novel examines how this seminal event made each of them who they are as adults, probes where each was broken by their family's dysfunction, and traces those broken echoes through their lives. It is an introspective study of family, searching, and forgiveness. Sadness leaks through the chapters, which span 40 years.

The narrative, primarily character driven, is chronological but spotted with intentional gaps. The chunks of missing time don't seem important though as the characters are fully rounded by the moments the narrative does spend with each of them, connecting them to each other even when they themselves are not in contact. From the siblings' early explorations into the natural world to the contrasting ways they each cocoon themselves after their father's leaving, Murphy has written this very carefully, very precisely, and very beautifully. The novel is intricately plotted in its move from one sibling to the next sibling either a year or several years further on. It is a slow and deliberate, intimate, ultimately touching story of a family that has lost its way trying to find equilibrium and connection again, to repair themselves, and to find forgiveness. ( )
  whitreidtan | Mar 11, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received an Advance Reader's Copy of this book.

This is a beautiful, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting novel about the Thurber family: parents Terrance and Catrin, and their children Jamie, Lewis, and Connor. The story opens in 1978, when Terrance takes his young children hiking in the woods of western New York state to teach them to appreciate nature. Terrance eventually leaves his family to move out west, and this book is an account of how this abandonment affects each Thurber family member through the years. It is a story of mental illness, addiction, guilt, and anger, told through the eyes of each Thurber. It is also about survival and redemption. Luminous, insightful writing. I was deeply touched by this book. ( )
  ravensfan | Feb 1, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
“The whole country seemed to offer up people made to feel small by one thing or another. Sun. Space. Each other. Tiny Americans everywhere. Drifting and drifting.” — Devin Murphy, “Tiny Americans”

In Devin Murphy's novel “Tiny Americans” (2019), the three Thurber siblings are made to feel small by their quarreling parents, a drunken father and a mother more committed to her art than to her family. The parents have their own reasons for feeling small.

Beginning in 1978, when the kids are young, and following one character or another over the next 40 years. Murphy shows us the consequences of parental neglect.

Terrance Thurber, the father, soon abandons his family and heads out to a remote part of the West.

The son Lewis, one of the most intriguing characters, becomes a sailor, first in the Navy and later the merchant marine. He feels fully a man only when at sea. Connor, the other son, reflects in 2005, "I'd become the kind of father I resented my own dad for being." Jamie, the daughter, seemingly prospers, but it takes years before she can say of her parents, "Everything I thought they burdened me with suddenly seems to switch from their lack to something different. Something I couldn't see until now. A wash of forgiveness comes."

The siblings independently become ready for reconciliation by the time Terrance sends each of them a letter inviting them to a family reunion.

The novel's chapters read like standalone stories, yet together they show a family that however broken remains bound by love. Murphy shows that love makes us bigger. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Jan 23, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
'The whole country seemed to offer up people made to feel small by one thing or another. Sun. Space. Each other . Tiny Americans everywhere.' I wondered where this title came from and I had to wait to almost the end of the book to find out. A story of a modern family or maybe a family years and years ago with the same theme. Parents who love their kids but have a problem with alcohol so their kids are the ones who suffer. The father leaves when the children are young so that plays a big part. It is a book about redemption and forgiveness though, which makes it a good book. One that would make a controversial book club selection. ( )
  txwildflower | Jan 17, 2019 |
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