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The Children

by Ann Leary

The Children by Ann Leary X
The Children by Ann Leary
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  • Published May 2016
    256 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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There are currently 25 member reviews
for The Children
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  • Kate G. (Bronx, NY)
    A Disappointing Beach Book
    I enjoy a good beach book ( set at a summer house, functional or dysfunctional family) and sadly, The Children was not it. The story started with potential and then spiraled into a darker place. There seemed to be a current of real mental dysfunction through most of the characters which went unrecognized. The narrator seems to be housebound and the reader is never given an explanation or reason. The other characters are types or tropes and are never fleshed into real people. While several awful situations occur, this family is unable to get out of its own way to deal with them in a rational manner. The family ultimately was very sad, but I was unable to muster enough empathy for them.
  • Kathy K. (ME)
    Disappointing as a Family Novel
    As a native New Englander, I had been aware of Ann Leary for awhile in a peripheral manner, but somehow never read any of her books. I was excited to read her newest novel, set on a lake in Connecticut. At the outset, The Children appears to be a family novel about a non-traditional blue-blooded WASP family with eccentric ways. The beginning of the book is filled with dry humor depicting the frugal Yankee ways of this rich family and I enjoyed (and recognized) some of their habits; native New Englanders will appreciate these anecdotes which seem to reflect a dying breed of New Englanders.

    Despite enjoying the beginning of the book, the narrator, Charlotte, never feels completely compelling or relatable. Despite her wariness of others in regards to a lack of honesty or integrity, she unapologetically writes (and is paid substantially for) a mommy blog despite being a single woman with social anxiety. Leary also introduces difficult topics through both Charlotte and her sister Sally but never explores them in a meaningful way - serious issues don't always feel sensitively handled or researched, and as such, their effects on the characters are shallow.

    A bigger problem with the novel is the sudden tonal shift in the second half of the book. Rather than continuing to explore the characters, the book turns dark and twisty and feels like a somewhat predictable thriller towards the end. Unfortunately, Leary doesn't use any of the dark plot points to effect change in her characters, or to create increasingly complex characters. The characters feel rather two-dimensional in light of all of the drama in the book, and this contributed to my disappointment in the resolution of the novel.

    Overall, this feels like a family novel that never fully explores the family at hand, but the setting of the novel is rich and believable, and readers who enjoy plot-driven fiction may enjoy the plot twists within.
  • Betty T. (Warner Robins, GA)
    Had Potential but Did Not Meet It
    I struggled with this book. It started out with great potential. I loved the part in Chapter 1 where the grandmother says she is going to go upstairs to die. Her grandson says "Gran, not die. You mean lie, not die." Then it continues "But Trudy had meant die. She walked up the back stairs to her bedroom. …Then she folded back the quilt on the bed, pressed herself against the cool sheets, and died." That got my attention.

    And I liked the guy that was breaking into homes. He was called Mr. Clean because he didn't steal anything but always left the homes cleaner when he left – doing the laundry, washing the dishes, etc.

    But the book overall was pretty lackluster for me. I could not get into any of the characters. I like to care about the people I am investing so much time with, but that did not happen here. The family definitely has its quirks, but even those did not really draw me in. Not the book for me.
  • Mary K.
    The Children
    This is sad, this book in the beginning had potential, but halfway it just goes on and on with nothing to do with the story. It was like the writer needed to fill up pages.


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