Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 317
In her first novel, Flournoy tells a compelling story about a family in Detroit reuniting in the year 2008 to make a decision about their family home, the Turner House. After Viola, the mother of thirteen and widow, faces a myriad of hardships which prevent her from paying the mortgage on the beloved Turner home, she must vacate the home. The children must decide what to do with their childhood home. The narrative is much more about the members of the home than the house itself, as the relationships and dynamics of the family unfold.
Throughout the novel, readers learn of the layers of reality regarding the family members. As a young couple, Viola and her husband Francis had moved to Detroit in the 1940's with their newborn son, Cha-Cha. With great description and creative details, Flournoy illustrates the decades of life in the Turner home, as Detroit and the family weather riots, violence, labor disputes, and economic depression, while also experiencing fun, loving, joyous times. Flournoy also explores serious topics of spiritual and personal dilemmas (including infidelity, mental health, and depression) as members of the family share secrets of the complicated past and present.
The story focuses upon Cha-Cha and the youngest daughter, Lelah, as adults. Both are worn by the challenges of their beloved city. As the home where they grew up sits empty, like many other homes surrounding it, it represents the isolation and depression of the Turners' lives. Cha-Cha, who grew up helping his mother raise his siblings, pays the electric bill monthly just so squatters and looters will not destroy the home. Lelah, who suffers with addiction, is one of the squatters who secretly lives in the abandoned home for a time.
As the adult children of the Turner clan join to face an ailing, elderly mother and the fate of their childhood home, they come together in love, heartache, pride, and unity.
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