March 25, 2019
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray
Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, African-American Literature, Mothers/Daughters, Sisters, Family Life
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls shares the compelling and multilayered story of the three Butler sisters: Althea, Viola, and Lillian. Althea was a teenager when her mother died and the children were faced with living with their unstable and often absent father. As the oldest, Althea shouldered the burden of caring for her younger siblings. As adults, they each deal with their traumatic childhood in different ways. To the shock of the community, Althea and her husband face some serious criminal charges and years in prison. Viola and Lillian rally to care for Althea’s children. The story is told from three perspectives as we learn more about the family secrets and childhood trauma.
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls has been promoted as An American Marriage meets The Mothers. For me, there were a few similarities that included African-American families and a prison storyline. However, throughout the reading, I thought more about concepts from Just Mercy and Hillbilly Elegy than the story lines of An American Marriage or The Mothers. In Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson reminds us that dysfunctional family history and socio-economic conditions are often contributing factors as young people experiment with making poor choices. In Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance shares his experiences in an unstable family and how difficult it is to break free of dysfunction, poverty, and chaos.
Despite different ways of handling the trauma of their childhoods, the siblings pull together the best they can to hold the family together, to offer love, apologies, explanations, and forgiveness, and to provide a safety net for Althea’s teenage girls.
This is a sincerely written story of sacrifice, love, strength of women, broken relationships, hope for healing, second chances, and of girls starving for love, stability, and safety. I definitely felt hopefulness at the story’s end.
As a white reader and reviewer I feel awkward reviewing this story because I am concerned that I might have missed some important considerations or misstated something. I especially appreciate any feedback to my review from POC. I’d like to include as part of my review a review from an authentic voice: https://afomaumesi.com/review-care-an…
Recommended for readers looking for complex and diverse reads, for fans of multilayered, tragic family dramas, and for those looking for a compelling read with many important themes and opportunities for discussion.
*trigger warnings for eating disorders, physical abuse, suicidal thoughts, parents in prison
Thank you to Jaymi at orangecountyreaders.com for my complimentary copy of The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls.
My Rating: 4 Stars
About the Author, Anissa Gray
Anissa Gray was born and raised in western Michigan, where her father pastored a Pentecostal church and her mother was a homemaker. She graduated from Western Michigan University and received her Masters in English from New York University. After graduate school, Anissa went on to work as a print reporter at Reuters in Manhattan, covering global financial news. That was followed by a move to Atlanta and the initiation of her career in broadcast journalism at CNN, where she has held roles as writer, editor, and producer, receiving Emmy and duPont awards for contributions to the network’s coverage of major stories.
After more than 20 years as a journalist, Anissa, a lifelong book lover and voracious reader, pursued fiction writing, applying her love of storytelling from the realm of real-life, newsworthy happenings to the events and encounters that shape our lives. Her first novel, The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, will be published in 2019.
Do you like complicated family drama stories?
If you’ve read An American Marriage or The Mothers, does this title interest you?
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Beantown Girls by Jane Healey, Inheritance by Dani Shapiro, and Things My Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman
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