Life journey and travels of a dysfunctional family

2010-03-03 00:00

IF quirky does it for you, then you will love this wonderful book.

The Flying Troutmans is the bizarre­ story of Hattie, a young woman­ who is summoned urgently from Paris to look after her sister Min’s children after Min’s mental state deteriorates and she can no longer cope with them.

The first line pretty much sums up the mood of the book. “Yeah, so things have fallen apart.”  Indeed, the centre could not hold, for the centre of this family is the unbalanced Min, whose depression is the constant cause of concern for her family and children.

So, enter Hattie the Brave, who, though ill-prepared, steps in to look after her wild nephew Logan and off-beat niece Thebes as Min succumbs to a mental breakdown and is hospitalised­.

Soon Hattie fears that she cannot cope with the responsibilities associated with looking after two children who have been scarred by the experience of having a mentally fragile mother. When Logan is expelled from school, she decides to set out from Canada in the family car to travel through the United States to find the children’s hippy father, Cherkis.

And so begins an adventurous odyssey­ which will leave you smiling at times, reflecting on how crazy life can be. Tender moments come thick and fast as they travel together, and begin to bond. Hattie, who bumbles from one crisis to another along the journey, realises that she needs these children just as much as they need her, and learns how best to deal with them.

The portrayal of the adorable, though unwashed, little Thebes I found perspicacious and believable. Toews “gets” children and writes their characters skilfully.

I really loved this tender book which successfully and entertainingly portrays the relationships between members of this dysfunctional, but very loving family.

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