The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls

Anissa Gray

In a heartbeat a family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace. What unfolds is a stunning portrait of the heart and core of an American family in a story that is as page-turning as it is important.

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The Mothers meets An American Marriage in this dazzling debut novel about mothers and daughters, identity and family, and how the relationships that sustain you can also be the ones that consume you.

The Butler family has had their share of trials—as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest—but nothing prepared them for the literal trial that will upend their lives.
Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will. They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when she and her husband Proctor are arrested, and in a heartbeat the family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace. The worst part is, not even her sisters are sure exactly what happened.
As Althea awaits her fate, Lillian and Viola must come together in the house they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters. What unfolds is a stunning portrait of the heart and core of an American family in a story that is as page-turning as it is important.

Advance Galley Reviews

A trial brings together this damaged family in which all of the individuals are attempting to limp along life in broken ways. The story contains recurring themes of sisters (Althea, Viola, & Lillian; as well as Kim and Baby Vi) and water. The following quote helped me sum up the feel of this book: Proctor's words to Althea: "And I think I watched you grow into a woman who was always reaching, trying to fill a need that was outside anything I could ever satisfy." I also liked how the author ended the book addressing where each character was headed in life. Thanks to First to Read- Penguin Books USA for the free copy of this book.

I liked the book but the back and forth left me lost at times. Lots of personality and insights though!

I really wanted to like this book and I did enjoy parts of it. The story jumped around too much for me with all the various perspectives. I would start to understand and care about what was going on and then a new chapter and a different perspective of a different part of the story. It was hard for me to read and invest in because of that. I wish it had started with what happened with Althea and Proctor (the whole story, not bits and pieces) and THEN divided up into the various characters' perspectives/reactions. I'm sure other people will really enjoy this book and it will be recommended for book clubs (I bet there would be some interesting discussions). I give it 4 stars out of 5. I would definitely consider reading future works by this author.

Like the description says, this is very reminiscent of An American Marriage. I think it's missing a bit of the backstory of how Althea and Proctor committed their fraud as well as the reasons behind it. There's a lot of pieces that could have been elaborated on but overall, it is an enjoyable story and one that I'm sure will land itself on many recommendation lists in the coming months.

I enjoyed reading this book. The way each person adapts and overcomes whatever they have faced in childhood and adulthood depends on the person. I do think the story was a bit rushed on what Althea and Proctor did to end up in jail, but was pleased with how the book played out. Thanks First to Read for my advance copy!

Strong characters. Interesting plot. Difficult family relationships. I should've been all over this, but the writing fell flat for me towards the middle. The ending was a bit rushed. I do appreciate what the author was trying to do, but it just didn't work for me.

I rarely quit on a book but I did not finish this one. I could not get any traction with the characters or the plot. I struggled with the fact that I couldn't finish this book because I feel I owe it to the author and First To Read to finish an ARC from them. In the end, I began to dread picking up this book and trying to read it.

An emotionally powerful book about family relationships— between partners, parents a d children, and siblings—and the impact of childhood traumas. Heart breaking in parts but redeeming in the end. A beautiful debut. Fans of An American Marriage will especially be fond of this one. Thank you Penguin First to Read.

Althea and Proctor Cochran are "disgraced restaurateurs and charity leaders...". They are "guilty of conspiracy to defraud the United States..." Althea's Kitchen and Grocery is boarded up. Graffiti splashed on the outside wall contains the words "Prison: Food for Thought". A whistle blower's phone call changed the family dynamic and life as they knew it. Althea and Proctor were living their dream when they opened Althea's Kitchen. They were pillars of the community, fund raising and running a food pantry. In a sluggish hometown economy, regular diners and summer tourists started to disappear. How would their restaurant stay afloat? Continuous work hours wrecked havoc on the lives of ignored fifteen year old twin daughters, Baby Vi and Kim. Baby Vi found refuge in books. At school, she either received the silent treatment or was taunted and teased. Kim found solace in listening to music. School attendance was not a priority and school suspensions were plentiful. Since Althea and Proctor's arrest and incarceration, Baby Vi and Kim were living with their Aunt Lillian and Lillian's ward, ex grandma-in-law, Nai-Nai who told Lillian " do duty for first daughter". (Eldest sister, Althea) Difficulties abound as Kim's behavior continues on its downward spiral. It's time for Aunt Viola to come from Chicago to assist Lillian with Althea's floundering teens. The Butler children, Althea, Joe, Viola and Lillian had a rough start in life. At age twelve, Althea was forced to raise her younger siblings due to the death of her mother. Pastor Butler was a phantom father..."a moody window-shaking poltergeist of a parent...". In alternating voices, the reader learns about the character strengths and weaknesses of Althea, Viola and Lillian. In an attempt to care for Baby Vi and especially Kim, these strong women must confront a Pandora's Box of demons from their childhood. Debut novelist Anissa Gray has masterfully crafted and thoughtfully characterized the three dominant, but flawed Butler sisters. A window into the marriage of Althea and Proctor opened through communications in jailhouse letters. It is hoped that family history will not repeat and cloud the future. "The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls" was a heartfelt, emotional read I highly recommend. Thank you First to Read- Penguin Random House for the opportunity to read and review "The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls".

This book was compared to American Marriage and The Mothers, but for me it fell very short of those works. I had a very hard time connecting to any of the characters and I did not feel very invested in the plot. This work is meant to be a portrayal of family, forgiveness, and loss and it does provide insight into what it means to be family. However, the story unfolds in a very slow and predictable way. I would give this a generous 3/5 stars.

I was intrigued by this family drama involving three sisters, one of which is in prison. The reality, though, is that I was mostly bored by it. Honestly, I think many people will love this book, and it will be popular. I just wasn't one of those people. It's more of a 2.5 stars to me, but I rounded up to 3 because it did have some redeeming qualities towards the end.

This book was AMAZING! The characters were real and the situations were gritty and hard and absolutely relatable. I felt sadness for the bad things that happened, but inspired by how the characters dealt. Scenes from the prison were excellent - didn’t feel forced or fake. I enjoyed getting to know each of the characters and how they all dealt differently with such a harsh similar beginning and upbringing. Thoughtful and thought- provoking.


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