The Turner House by Angela Flournoy | Book Review #vlogmas

Hi everyone. I’m Rincey and this is Rincey
Reads. Today I’m going to be doing a book review on The Turner House by Angela Flournoy.
This is Angela Flournoy’s debut novel and it’s been gaining a lot of critical attention,
it was shortlisted for the National Book Award, and a bunch of other awards that I can’t remember
off the top of my head. And it’s been getting pretty positive reviews overall so I was very
excited to pick this book up for myself. This is a novel following this family named the
Turner family. There are 13 siblings. The mother and father are named Francis and Viola,
they have 13 kids, and then they also have kids at this point. It’s taking place in Detroit
in about 2008, which is like the height of the economic downturn in the United States.
Detroit is one of those cities that got hit harder than most other major cities. And so
the Turners have this house on Yarrow street on Detroit’s East Side, which has basically
been abandoned or emptied for a little while now as the mother has gotten ill and moved
in with the oldest son. And so you are following this family through this time as they are
figuring out, you know, what to do with this house because they’re realizing that there’s
more money owned on it than it’s worth currently at this point. Also, like I mentioned, the
mother’s getting sick, and the oldest son is seeing “haints” which are basically like
spirits or ghosts. And so he’s trying to figure out what’s going on with that. In this story
you’re not following all 13 siblings because this isn’t a very long book and clearly that
wouldn’t be a very deep story. But you are getting highlights of specific siblings here
and there. There are a couple that you focus on the most. But in the book they mention
all the different siblings and some of them are like throughout the United States and
moved away from Detroit, things like that. So you do hear a little bit about every single
sibling but there are a couple that specifically are focused on in this story. One of the nice
things about this book is the fact that there is a family tree given at the very beginning
of the book, right here. So in the beginning it may seem like a lot, but then you slowly
realize that you don’t actually need to know every single character in the story since
not everyone is talked about all the time. But this is a nice little family tree that
you can reference back to, specifically toward the beginning of the book as you’re figuring
out who everyone is and what their relationship is to each other. But I think even without
that family tree, Angela Flournoy does a really good job of giving each of these characters
a voice and a story that’s all unto themselves. So it doesn’t feel like, at least for me,
that it gets confusing at all despite the fact that there is quite a cast of characters.
Another thing that this story does is that it jumps back and forth in time quite a bit.
So you’re not only just reading things as they’re happening in 2008 in Detroit, you’re
also jumping back quite a bit. So you learn the history of this family and you learn about
the parents specifically, figuring out what their relationship was like, what their personalities
were like, what they had to deal with moving to Detroit because originally they were both
from, I believe, Alabama. And then during the 1940s, 1950s the father ends up moving
up to Detroit, which you’ll find out why in the story. And so you get to see how the family
ended up on this house on Yarrow street. Another thing I really like about this book is that
even though there is this storyline of the haint — I don’t know if I’m pronouncing that
correctly, hopefully I am — which normally would bring in this idea of like magical realism
or something into the story, it isn’t really treated as that. I feel like this story is
still a very realistic story even though there is this slight spiritual or slightly supernatural
element added into it. This story doesn’t feel like a magical realism type of story
and I think that the author does a really good job of acknowledging that detail while
not making it seem too crazy that it couldn’t exist in this world. But also giving slightly
more grounded explanations for the things that are happening in this book. Personally
I was super intrigued just to see how Angela Flournoy was going to wrap up that storyline
specifically because it is the more supernatural one out of all the ones that are being told
in this book. But I think that she does a really good job of wrapping that up. However
I will say that one of my big gripes is that this is a book that’s told from multiple perspectives
which is never my favorite thing. It’s very rare that I read a book with multiple perspectives
and really love it. And so this is another one of those. I feel like there were certain
storylines, as per usual, that I loved more than others that I could’ve read an entire
book about. And so the fact that I was just getting glimpses of them felt a little bit
unsatisfactory. Like honestly, the most interesting storyline for me was following the youngest
sister Layla who is this gambling addict, who has a daughter and she had an abusive
husband before and things like that. And so every time I would read her storyline I was
probably the most intrigued and drawn into the story. And that isn’t to say that I hated
the other storylines but that one was just the one that intrigued me the most. So yeah,
in the end I gave this book a 3 out of 5 stars, I believe, on Goodreads. It’s really like
a 3.5 stars for me. It’s a really good book and I definitely recommend it if you are someone
who likes, like, family dramas. And I think that this is a really fantastic debut especially
and I feel like Angela Flournoy’s gonna be one of those authors to watch. There’s a reason
why she’s getting a lot of acclaim and I definitely can see that. But this was just a book that
for me I wanted a little bit more. Like this isn’t a very long book and it didn’t take
me very long to read whatsoever. But I could’ve easily just taken one of these storylines
and gone really deep into it. So yeah, those are my quick thoughts on The Turner House.
If you’ve read this book, feel free to leave your comments down below letting me know what
you guys thought of it. Um. I know a lot of people really, really loved it, which is another
reason why I picked it up so I’d love to see what you guys thought of it. Or if you didn’t
love it, you’re allowed to say that as well. So yeah, that’s all I have for now
and thanks for watching.

7 thoughts on “The Turner House by Angela Flournoy | Book Review #vlogmas

  1. I have this on audiobook and was considering getting a physical copy, and this video has convinced me! The audiobook was great as far as I listened, I just felt like it's the kind of book you want to really read. Great review!!

  2. I'm excited to read this. I had family, as so many of us in the south do, who left to move to Detroit. It will be interesting to see parallels.

  3. It sounds like a strong debut. I love family sagas so following and tracing a family through time is very appealing to me. I think I'd enjoy this one for sure, even if it is not a 4 or 5 star read.

  4. I'd actually never heard of this book before despite its apparent acclaim, so I'm glad you did this review! I don't know that I'll read it right away since I tend to be hesitant about stories with more than two narratives, but I'll definitely be keeping Angela Flournoy's name in the back of my mind.

  5. I totally agree with your slightly-better-than-lukewarm review. I wondered why there had to be so many siblings when we really only focus on three of them. What might be really interesting is if Ms. Flournoy came back to the Turner family, kind of like J. D. Salinger did with the Glass family.

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