Book Review: Two Tales Of Two Too Dysfunctional Families

Publication dates:  April and May 2020

Review, short version:  One rose each.

Review, long version:

I realize that dysfunctional families are good grist for a writer’s mill.  Or milieu.

Dysfunctional families – and stories about them – have been around forever.

Cain and Abel, sons of Adam and Eve – The First Family and fratricide!

The ancient Egyptians?  Cleopatra’s family’s activities read like a horror story.

And Shakespeare’s 17th century play, King Lear, isn’t exactly a quicker picker upper.

Which brings me to two contemporary women’s fiction novels about two dysfunctional families, The Imperfects by Amy Meyerson, and The Sweeney Sisters, by Lian Dolan.

In The Imperfects we have the Miller family – siblings Beck, Ashley and Jake, plus their mother Deborah.  All four Millers are estranged from each other.

In The Sweeney Sisters we have Liza, Maggie and Tricia Sweeney, plus their recently deceased father.  The sisters aren’t estranged, but they all have major daddy issues.

The Millers decide to start speaking to each other when it looks like they may be on their way to a financially huge inheritance from Grandma Helen.

The Sweeney sisters come together when it looks like they may be on their way to a financially huge inheritance from Daddy.

In The Imperfects, none of the Millers is likeable, and it’s hard to feel sympathy for any of them when you see how they speak to each other.  They sneer, they snarl, they criticize, they judge.  Some really choice dialogue begins on page 85, and by the time I got to page 88 I was thinking, “These people aren’t imperfect.  They’re a nightmare.”

The Sweeney sisters, on the other hand, are civil to each other.  Unfortunately, that means oldest sister Liza, and youngest sister Tricia, constantly enabling middle sister Maggie – they accept her lies, encourage her narcissism, and subsidize Maggie’s unemployed self-indulgent artist lifestyle.

Oh, I almost forgot.  A fourth Sweeney sister, the result of one of Daddy’s affairs, shows up to complicate things.  She also has major daddy issues.

I imagine many – maybe most – authors dream of their books becoming blockbuster movie$$$.

I can easily envision The Imperfects and The Sweeney Sisters made into one movie, running side-by-side on a split screen:

Two dysfunctional families:

Two inheritances:

Two similar endings:

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