Ya, this book was, like, WEIRD! (How many reviews must start this way!!?? Probably a heck of a lot!!). Andrew Kaufman is a Canadian writer from Wingham, Ontario (LOVE his bio which states: This (Wingham) is the same town that Alice Munro was born in, which makes him the second-best writer from a town of 3,000. Hee hee!). Penny and I had the distinct pleasure of meeting him at the Random House Blogger Love Fest in February of 2013 and we were given the book which had just come out in paperback. It looked quick, funny and quirky so I gave it a go.
Crazy ass grandmother, Annie Weird a.k.a. “The Shark”, bestowed a blessing on each of her 5 grandchildren on the day they were born. Richard was given the gift of self-preservation, Lucy could never be lost, Abba would always have hope, Kent could never lose a fight and Angie would always forgive. As her grandchildren grew up (and apart from each other following their father’s spectacular Maserati-falling-off-a-cliff death) Annie realized that the blessings were actually curses. Richard’s self-preservation did not allow him to love fully and thus has several failed marriages; Lucy’s sense of direction makes her in to a bit of a slut (how does that associate?? Not sure, but it works!); Abba’s sense of hope leaves her living in a dream world; Kent cannot get along with ANYONE and poor Angie gets taken advantage of All. Of. The. Time.
Annie is now dying and has summoned Angie to help her gather all of the estranged Weird siblings together so that the so-called “blursings” can be lifted before she drops dead. The catch is Angie only has two weeks to 1) bring them together from different parts of the country (and in Abba’s case– the world– she is the Queen of the fictional island nation of Uplifftia– what??) and 2) convince them to see The Shark again (no one is a fan). She is also about 7 or 8 months pregnant.
Angie’s quest to gather her brothers and sisters has a lot of laugh out loud moments as they reunite one by one and drive like maniacs to make it to The Shark on time. They constantly bad mouth their grandmother, bicker with each other (as siblings do), relive the death of their father (still wondering why his body was never found) and debate whether or not their mother has been faking her own dementia. I really enjoyed the parts where it flashed back to their childhood when they would play in their attic with a city they made of cardboard called Rainytown. It had its own town council, planning and development committee and quirky businesses with names like the Purple Magic Roller Disco Palace, Jungle Cat Galaxy Zoo, Tragedy Strikes Bowling Alley and the C. U. Soohn Funeral Home. It really reminded me of the innocence of childhood and reenforced the fact that these siblings were as close as anything before tragedy struck. Abba, touchingly, had an actual Disco Roller Palace built in the “kingdom” of Uplifftia– like an homage to her siblings!
The story does take a turn after the blurses are finally lifted. It pushed the “magical realism” style a bit with thunder bolts and lightning, coma awakenings, dancing and twirling (not to mention the unrealistic coast to coast air travel without a hitch or thought of cost). Maybe all a bit too conveniently wrapped up in the end but over all a fun read that kept me interested enough to try All My Friends Are Superheroes. 3 – 3.5 stars (3.25??)
Here is the thing. Love is so uncontrollable that sometimes it won’t go away, even when you want it to.