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Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts by Claire LaZebnik

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Despite her name, Keats Sedlak is the sanest person in her large, nutty family of brilliant eccentrics. Her parents, both brainy academics, are barely capable of looking after themselves, let alone anyone else, and her two uber-intelligent siblings live on their own planets. At least she can count on one person in her life, her devoted boyfriend Tom. Down-to-earth and loving, he's the one thing that's kept Keats grounded for the last decade. But when Keats's mother makes a surprise announcement, the entire family is sent into a tailspin. For the first time, Keats can't pick up the pieces by herself. Now she must re-evaluate everything she's ever assumed about herself and her family - and make the biggest decision of her life.

Goodreads Summary

Keats is one of those characters that the reader will just love reading about and feel as if she is a close friend.  Keats holds nothing back to the reader, her true thoughts and decisions are laid bare.  She has always considered herself to be the normal one in her rather oddly intelligent family.  Little does she know that she has a special kind of quality about her as well, she draws people to her-a characteristic evident to the reader.  Her sister, Hopkins, is brilliant with a capital B.  Hopkins has skipped grades in school and finished both college and medical school shockingly early; however, she lacks social skills and empathy.  Milton is also brilliant, though he is extremely introverted and timid.  Keats connects with him during the book to try to help him out of his shell. 

The book itself concerns the shifting of relationships and the realization that one is not getting what one wants from life, change is necessary.  Keats is almost engaged to her much older boyfriend of ten years, she begins to feel like the relationship is in a rut.  Jacob, a family friend, is always there for Keats and her family-he becomes part of a love triangle during the book.  Keats' mother decides that she has had enough, she wants to divorce Keats' father.  Hopkins is...Hopkins, and Milton needs serious change.  The book is very fun to read, the author manages to insert and make clear several life lessons as well.

The characters all have a depth to them, particularly Keats, that makes them appear real to the reader.  The events are fast-paced and will not leave the reader in the lurch.  The ending is perfect for the novel, realistic even.  This book is recommended to adult readers.

4 Stars