When Charlie Nancy’s estranged father passes away, family secrets come tumbling out at the funeral. Disbelieving that he could possibly be the son of a god, Charlie inadvertently calls the brother he didn’t know he had into his life. Havoc ensues and Charlie must find a way to extricate himself from his brother while learning what it means to be the son of Anansi, the African and Caribbean trickster god. Adult fans of Harry Potter will enjoy the sudden revelation of a secret life and Charlie’s ensuing transformation.
Books that don’t match their descriptions are extremely annoying, and this one especially so. The book jacket says, “It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific.” And the beach scene really is exceedingly horrific. Unfortunately, the comic relief I was led to expect never followed. I failed to be even slightly amused by this story of Little Bee, a Nigerian refugee, whose life becomes entangled with a vacationing English couple.
When Junior announces that he wants to attend the white school off the reservation he is not only ostracized, but tormented by his own people. As he dips one foot into the strange world of white people and keeps the other firmly planted on the reservation he feels torn between the better life he glimpses at his new school and the life he has always known.
According to Wikipedia, a “coming of age” story is one which details a young person's transition from adolescence to adulthood. This describes Every Last Cuckoo, except Sarah Lucas’ transition is one from a comfortable coupled existence as a mature woman to one in which she must make her own way. At seventy-five, Sarah’s husband of fifty years has died unexpectedly leaving Sarah and their two dogs alone in their rural Vermont home.
My reaction to Invisible Monsters is much the same as my great Aunt Kack’s to Northern Exposure back in the 80’s. She couldn’t believe what “they” were putting on TV, and I can’t believe what “they” are putting in print.
Tobias Wolff, who teaches creative writing at Stanford, has led an interesting life. His success comes despite a precarious childhood, from which he escaped through a combination of quick wit and good luck. So it’s no surprise that his novel Old School, which draws on his personal experience, is a fascinating exploration of the precarious nature of class and social status.