Monday, November 23, 2009

Book Review: Lying with the Dead (2009) by Michael Mewshaw

The title is intriguing. The cover art is intriguing: a white box containing a toy airplane, bus, and car. It’s a quick read, full of melancholy and some dark secrets. Unfortunately, the story itself fails to deliver on the expected level of mystery and depth of character emotion or revelation.

The book tracks the lives of three siblings, 60-year old Candy who is the self-designated “mother’s keeper” and longs for romance; Maury, a loner with Asperger’s syndrome; and Quinn, who is a jaded actor living in London. The adult children reconnect in their Maryland hometown at their aging, manipulative mother’s beckoning.

Each of the book’s chapters takes the point of view of one of these characters, showing us their present lives as well as moments in the past that contribute to their family’s dysfunction and their own idiosyncrasies. Even though we are afforded views into each individual’s life, none are fully developed characters. None really get to the point where they can address and deal with the past, at least in any meaningful way. And isn’t that the point of a “dysfunctional family” novel? Isn’t that where the real drama lies?

The conclusion of the story is at once swift and predictable, leaving the reader with longing for the “what next”… or maybe it’s a feeling of “so what”? If you’re in the mood for dysfunction and shocking parental behavior, but with a sense of success, or at least closure, try The Glass Castle: A Memior, by Jeannette Walls.

Next review: Jemima J by Jane Green


  1. Nice review - now I know to avoid the book. I'll be interested to see how the next one goes...

  2. I am reading "The Glass Castle" right now. Coincidence? Weird.


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