When I first saw this book cover surface on Instagram, I was immediately intrigued. The floral background, the colourful yellow centerpiece, and the interesting title are what grabbed my attention. So much so that I added this book to my To-Be-Read list without even thinking about it much. Flash forward six months into 2019, and I finally experienced The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray. Published in February 2019, this debut novel is domestic literary fiction. It’s a story about mothers and daughters, families, and relationships. Althea, Viola, and Lillian Butler are three American sisters. Althea, the eldest sister, and her husband Porter have been arrested and convicted of crimes and are serving their respective sentences. The crimes and details of their actions are unknown. Viola and Lillian are left to pick up the pieces of their older sister’s family, including taking care of her teenage twin daughters Little Vi and Kim. What the book encompasses is a character-driven story of a family in a small community that has been thrown into the limelight and left to deal with the stigmas, rumors, and mess of the crime’s consequences. I would compare it to books like An American Marriage by Tayari Jones or The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whitall.
I think that this book is wonderful. It is emotional and powerful. It is a compelling story of family loyalty that I read it in a total of 3 sittings (which is very rare for me!). Why was it so hard to put down? Simply because it is beautifully well-written and the characters are so rich and relatable. The author does an incredible job of really exploring each character and portraying a believable back-story to how these characters are now handling this family crisis. None of the characters are perfect. They all have flaws and issues of varying severity, and that is what makes them authentic. They all appear to be very very human in this way as well. You can’t help but empathize with Little Vi and Kim who have been left by their parents, and forced to continue going to school and living their day-to-day young lives in a community that has been ignited with controversy and gossip.
As a reader, I was so engrossed in this family’s story because it seemed so realistic and possible. There is so much that I want to talk about, but I don’t want to give any spoilers. So I must just say – go read it if you haven’t! It is not a story that follows a traditional story-map with a beginning, middle, and end. It’s not about the crimes that were committed or what happened. It’s more about how it affected each and every member of Althea and Porter’s immediate family. It is just a snapshot of a time in this family’s history.
I am singing high praises of Anissa Gray’s writing. I will continue to read any future novels that she publishes and I think this was an outstanding debut.
My Rating: (5 / 5)