Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes by Mary E. Lambert

Annabelle is just starting summer break and it appears that a really cute boy likes her so her life should be great, right?  It would be, if not for her mother's hoarding problem and her father completely ignoring the problem.  Annabelle can remember life before her mother started "collecting" things but now there are empty, molding milk jugs in the pantry, six foot high stacks of newspapers in the kitchen, paint cans in her brother's bedroom, a mountain of broken doll parts in her sister's room, and more in every inch of the house.  Every inch, this is, except for Annabelle's room.  When she was ten she threw all of her mother's junk out her bedroom window and has kept her room bare ever since.  Annabelle also has a rule that keeps all her friends at least five miles away from her house so that no one knows what is happening there.  But their lives are about to get more public when Annabelle's father leaves and her grandmother shows up.

Let me start with this cover which is so ridiculous I don't even know what to think about whomever designed it.  This is a much more serious book than the cover would ever lead you to believe so that always annoys me.  I know that authors don't get a say on the artists associated with their books, but even the title comes across as somewhat goofy rather than serious hoarding story.  Once you get past those two things, the book is good at portraying the uncomfortable feeling of being surrounded by junk all the time and the family dynamics that help enable this disorder.  Since the book focuses on Annabelle you don't learn as much about what led her mother down this path nor do you see the entirety of her mental state.  Like, why can't she just throw away all this stuff that is obviously trash?  Seems simple but the little I know about hoarding makes me know that it's not that easy.  This is not really covered in the book but that's okay since I think this is more about Annabelle coming to terms with the reality of her life and not covering everything up all the time.  The ending is too simplistic and optimistic but otherwise, a decent book about handing a dysfunctional family.

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