Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review: The Family Fang

The Family Fang
by Kevin Wilson

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Summary: Caleb and Camille Fang are artists who involve their children in each piece of work. The art typically consists of making a scene and evoking a reaction from a crowd of people, all taped by a hidden camera. After growing up in this environment, adults Annie and Buster have a difficult time functioning normally in the world. When their parents disappear, they join together to discover whether their parents are truly gone, or if this is just another Fang Family piece.

Review: An alternate title to this novel could be 'How not to Raise your Children.' The chapters go back and forth between present day adult Annie and Buster to flashbacks of performances by the Fangs. Adults Annie and Buster seem to drift with no real connection to the world. Annie is a moderately successful actress who gets caught up in a scandal and is quick to have a drink to calm down. Buster is a less successful writer who's been reduced to moving back into his parents' house after an unfortunate incident with a potato gun. As a mother, each is a picture of the type of person I don't want my child to be.

So why are they this way? They have been shaped by their parents' art. If your definition of art is a portrait on a wall, then the Fangs would tell you that has been done. Their art is in the emotion, in the action of a moment, planned out and executed by the Fangs. As the book progresses and you continually wonder how they could involve their children in their art pieces, you come to realize how far the Fangs have already gone in the name of their art, and just how far they are willing to go.

This book interested me in the same way scientists are interested in studying strange cases that would be unethical to intentionally create, but are useful and fascinating to study when they occur naturally. I would never wish this situation on children or a family, but was facsinated how the parents' parenting style and values impacted their children's lives. I enjoyed reading it, and was pleased that Annie and Buster were on their way to piecing together a normal life at the end.

Reviewed by Samantha

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