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The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls

Review

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls

THE CARE AND FEEDING OF RAVENOUSLY HUNGRY GIRLS is the story of the four Butler siblings --- Althea, who is the oldest; middle children Viola and Joe; and Lillian, the youngest. After a sad and turbulent childhood that left them with some deep scars, they are forced to meet again.

The reason for this unwanted get-together is the trial of Althea and her husband, Proctor. The two have committed a fraud, and when the novel opens, they are awaiting the verdict. Thirty years earlier, the Butler siblings’ mother passed away. At the time, Althea was not yet a teenager, while Lillian was just a baby. Although the children were left with their father, it was Althea who took care of her sisters and brother. This burden, laid on Althea at such a young age, will have a lasting impact on her.

"Anissa Gray has written a beautiful debut novel. Though the characters may not be especially likable, they are strong and three-dimensional."

Following the verdict, the story of the Butler family starts to unravel. While Althea is in jail, waiting for a transfer to another prison, she has a lot of time to think about her past and her relationship with her sisters and children. On the other side of the prison wall, Viola and Lillian --- while taking care of Althea’s teenage daughters, Kim and Baby Vi --- are also forced to re-examine their lives. Along with taking care of her nieces, Lillian attends to her late ex-husband’s grandmother. Both Viola and Lillian have a lot of issues, not so much with one another, but with other members of the family. Viola’s marriage is falling apart, and she is fighting some pretty hard internal battles. Lillian still cannot reconcile with her past, and has plenty of unresolved traumatic experiences.

The relationship between the Butler sisters and their brother is anything but harmonious; it is a complicated one that is loaded with resentment, remorse, unresolved issues and ghosts of the past. As time goes by, the sisters try to keep their heads above water. But will they be able to find that elusive peace?

Anissa Gray has written a beautiful debut novel. Though the characters may not be especially likable, they are strong and three-dimensional. The narrative, voiced from the points of view of the three sisters and through Proctor’s letters to Althea, is slowly paced yet well balanced, with just the right amount of interaction among the characters, inner dialogue and reminiscences. Gray emphasizes how important it is to reconcile with our past (in whatever way we may choose) in order to move on and be content. It also shows the complexity of family relationships, and how the death of a parent can have far-reaching consequences that have the potential to be tragic.

Despite its slow pace, the novel does not drag. In fact, it made me savor the story, the characters and the plot. I felt compelled to keep turning the pages to find out what happens to the girls and if they will be able to escape the clutches of the past. THE CARE AND FEEDING OF RAVENOUSLY HUNGRY GIRLS is well worth reading.

Reviewed by Dunja Bonacci Skenderović on March 1, 2019

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
by Anissa Gray

  • Publication Date: February 19, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • ISBN-10: 1984802437
  • ISBN-13: 9781984802439