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Strangers at the feast : a novel
Vanderbes, Jennifer.
Adult Fiction VANDERB

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From Publishers' Weekly:

An unhappy family creeps toward a violent tragedy in Vanderbes's misfired sophomore novel (after Easter Island). Every one of the Olsons who gather on Thanksgiving Day, 2007, has issues. Matriarch Eleanor, adrift after years of ministering to a husband who never recovered from his Vietnam war experience, is flummoxed by her children's choices: her unmarried college professor daughter, Ginny, has just adopted a mute Indian girl, and son Douglas is up to his neck in the real estate bubble, prompting the ire of his wife, Denise, who can barely stand the ineptitude of Ginny's attempt at cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Then there's Kijo, who is out for revenge after one of Douglas's real estate deals gets his grandmother's home condemned. When Ginny's oven fails and the Olsen family decamps to Denise and Douglas's McMansion, the catastrophe that ensues will, of course, change and bind the lives of everyone involved. But without the love story, historical intrigue, and exotic locale of Easter Island, Vanderbes spins her wheels on a toothless Corrections-lite family saga that winds its way to an ever-so-unlikely big bang conclusion. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

No one would expect the Olsons to be involved in a bloody crime dubbed the Thanksgiving Day Massacre. But as the events of that day slowly unfold, we learn how the choices of each family member contribute to the tragedies that follow. There is Gavin, the Olson patriarch whose long-ago decision to fight in Vietnam results in present-day strained relationships and a dead-end insurance job; Eleanor, his wife, whose persistent show of false cheer causes her to snap; their two grown children, Douglas, an overconfident real estate investor whose risky decisions destroy all he holds dear, and Ginny, an academic who impulsively and illegally adopts a mute Indian girl. We also encounter Kijo, a young man from the projects whose intention to send a strong message to the man responsible for razing his home goes horribly wrong. VERDICT Vanderbes (Easter Island) has written an absorbing and suspenseful story about the dynamics of family, generational misunderstandings, and the desperate ways one copes with both the arbitrariness of fate and the consequences of one's choices. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/10.]-Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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