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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“If you enjoyed An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, read The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, … an absorbing commentary on love, family and forgiveness.”—Washington Post 
 
One of the most anticipated reads of 2019 from Vogue, Vanity Fair, Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Bustle, HelloGiggles and Cosmo!
 
“The Mothers meets An American Marriage” (HelloGiggles) 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

I tried a few times to read this but just couldn't get into it. I wasn't really sure where the story was going or just couldn't connect with the characters. Something was missing for me. It's so hard for me to not finish a book but I just couldn't get through this one.

Great book! I’m so glad I’ve gotten a chance to read it because I don’t know if I would had picked it up but I’m glad I did. This was such a great read, it does have some hard topics in this novel but it was handled well. This is mainly about a family and I love those types of books about family because there is always the good and the bad. Every character was well developed and the writing was good. This debut novel is such a good read. I would definitely recommend it.

I was excited to read this book through Penguin First to Read but ultimately found it one of the most boring books I’ve ever made myself finish. And yes, the struggle was real. I guess I do not understand the point of the book. After their Mother dies, Althea marries Proctor and takes in all of her siblings. Their Father is a Preacher who checks out of their life. One day he comes back and decides the 2 sisters and one brother are coming home to live from now on. Viola is about to graduate so it will be Lillian and the brother ultimately left to live with their Father. Althea and Proctor are pillars of the community. However after a call, their world comes crumbling down and both are arrested and sent to prison. Now it will be up to Althea’s siblings to care for their two teen daughters. Like I said to begin with, I was thrilled to get this book but was ultimately completely let down. One of the daughter’s is named after her Aunt Viola which causes major confusion at times. It just fell flat for me and the story line forced. Because of this, it is not a book I will be recommending. Again I received this book through Penguin First to Read for my honest review.

Although a promising premise I simply couldn't connect with any of the characters and struggled with this book. Ultimately, my lack of interest won out in the busy holiday season and I put it down to never return. There were snippets where I wanted to get involved but the book and characters just didn't do it for me. Perhaps it will become one of your favorites but for me it just didn't happen.

This is a book that took me a while to get into because all of the characters are so flawed. But as you learn about each of the women you begin you want to hear their stories. This a story about redemption and how they only began to get that once they opened themselves up to each other and asked for love and forgiveness.Definitely give this one a read, I think you will like it.

Beautiful story, I really enjoyed reading it.

Thank you to Penguin's First To Read program for the ARC! With the prison population full to bursting in the US, this book is an important look at its effects on children. Aside from that, the book gives a snapshot of the effects of abuse and neglect decades after it ends. This was a great read.

Did not finish.

Hard to put down. Family conflicts, interesting characters and family dynamics! A real page turner! 4 stars

A beautifully written and powerful story. Sucked me in right from the start.

After receiving an advance copy of this book, I tried to finish, but I found that I really didn't like the story. This book was to me full of "filler", too many words without much too gain and would have been better as a short story. The story depicted family strife from several character perspectives, but went overboard on the emotions. There is real drama, but it is drawn out and pulls the story down. I might like to read if redone because the storyline is a very realistic one. Family dynamics are plausible.

It's hard to say this book was enjoyable, because there is so much struggle and strife for the family at the heart of its story. It is beautifully written and a compelling story, and very gripping, and there is so much trauma for this family to get through. I loved the exploration of how a crime committed by one family member affects the entire family, how it pushes on the meaning of family, and how generations parallel and change. Not entirely what I was expecting, which made it so much better.

This was a departure for me in form and substance but I did enjoy the book. I did not expect the story to twist this way.

I'm really happy that I chose to read this book. Coming from a broken myself, this was quite hard to read, but definitely something I needed to do. Although science fiction and fantasy is more my genre, I did very much enjoy reading through this book

This novel was a very well-written exploration of a very broken family. One sister is in prison for committing fraud, one sister is battling a lifelong eating disorder, and the third sister is trying to let the past remain in the past while living in the family home where the ghosts of the past still creep around. Unlike most family life books, this was not drawn out, nor was it boring to read. The characters, while diverse and flawed, were all relatable and even likeable. I felt the author tackled hard life issues without being overly dramatic or downplaying their seriousness. I really liked this book and highly recommend!

Restaurateurs Althea and Proctor are arrested leaving their twin girls and Althea’s sisters and brother to grapple with the fallout. ?? Gray’s The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls is a well-written novel that continually switches between the three Butler sisters’ points of view. Gray includes diverse characters while asking the reader if we are doing more than our parents.

I may have been a bit misled into reading this book. When I read the description, I thought it was going to be a suspense/mystery type book and it definitely was not that. However, I received the ecopy from firsttoread.com for an honest review so I did push through and finish the book. The book wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t the type of book I’d have any interest in. That being said the characters were well written with great depth. Each one had a story and a past that led them to be how they were. It really showed how the bonds of family can take so much pressure and still bounce back. ???? (4 out of 5 stars) I’m still giving it a decent rating because it was a very well written book and the story actually was very good.

A well told story of a family in crisis. Highly emotional.

A strong story about family relations and how they shape each person throughout their life. It's a bit confusing at first as it doesn't really give much information about how and why the heads of the family are in jail and on their way to prison or about other elements from the beginning. But I realized as the story progressed that it's on purpose. There is such an important element of how secrets and half-revelations shape a family, that the vague parts of the plot seem like an important element instead of a misstep. It touches on many important topics (eating disorders, abuse, family, obligations) with so much heart that you can't help but feel connected to every single character and their journey. I do wish that the teenage girls had gotten a deeper exploration like those of the older generation, but that's just me nitpicking and enjoying how Gray developed her characters enough to want more of it.

This is a stark portrait of a family as they struggle with both the past and the present when faced with a difficult situation. Althea and her husband are in jail, and Althea's two younger sisters are forced to come home and help raise their teenage twin nieces. The story is told from alternate points of view, rotating through the three sisters. The characters were well developed, and the content was hard to read. That said, it read very realistically and there was a thread of hope and perseverance throughout the story. The story really dove into the relationships and what the characters needed for sustenance. What if we don't get what we need- what if we are still hungry (spiritually, emotionally, physically)- how do we feed ourselves? How does this hunger or lack impact our behaviors and decisions? Thanks to the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Three sisters, one a mother and her two daughters, five women in need of sustenance and love are all portrayed in this beautiful novel written by Anissa Gray. There’s Viola with her eating disorder, Lillian and her need for safety and order, and Althea, at the heart of the story, who’s tries to feed her hunger through greed and brings everything down around her, including Procter, her husband, and her daughters, Baby Vi and Kim. There are also the incarcerated women, who have their own particular hungers. I think the most affecting scenes in the book are when Lillian walks around her house and touches the doors and windows, repeating the word, “Safe.” The pain and anger in this book are real, and so eventually, is the love.

The story grabbed me, especially when it came to Viola's eating disorder. The Care and Feeding of Ravenous Girls is an important book. I like that the author touched on how the black girls didn't fit into steretypical boxes. I did have my questions as I continued reading. I felt it lagged in the middle. Overall I would recommend the book. The writing is excellent. For a first book Anissa Gray did a great job.

This was an amazing story told in multiple first person points-of-view in a truly grab-you-from-the-start way that doesn't want to let go.

How is this a debut novel?! Anissa Gray has such a beautiful way of writing. In all that she writes, there is so much that goes unwritten. This is a beautiful book that explores fragility, relationships, families and adaption. The complexity of relationships, particularly within families, is captured really nicely in ‘The Care and Feeding of Ravenous Girls’. I was particularly intrigued by her exploration of shared histories... how does our experience of the shared history impact on our sense of self? From there, how does our sense of self impact on our future lived experiences? For me, this theme was really engaging. I’d really recommend this. Probably 4/5 stars but I’m really excited to read more from this author!

I didn’t love this book until the end. I felt like I had all kinds of questions about things that happened and we only got hints and I wanted more detail. I did enjoy the last quarter, felt like it flowed better.

An incredible debut novel from Anissa Gray detailing family dynamics and dysfunction in a raw, heartfelt, and moving way. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls is told from the perspective of the three Butler sisters--Althea, Viola, and Lillian. Left motherless at a young age and with a father who was away for the majority of their childhood by virtue of his job as a traveling preacher, Althea is left to raise her two sisters and brother, Joe. Forced to grow up quickly and to get away from her quick-to-anger father, Althea marries Proctor, who becomes her protector, at a young age. The book follows the Butler sisters after Proctor and Althea are shockingly arrested and convicted for fraud and theft. Proctor and Althea's teenage twin daughters, Kim and Baby Vi are left to be raised by Viola and Lillian, who are each dealing with scars and issues of their own. The book is about how a family comes together, struggles, heals, and grows in the face of adversity. The Care and Feeding is a highly emotional and raw read, about how the people closest to us can cause us the most pain but can also be sources of healing and growth. It's about coming together as a family when you are needed the most. And it's about making a family with people you least expect to be in your life. I loved this book, with all of its complex, yet tender-hearted characters, and I would highly recommend it to all. I won't stop thinking about this book or the Butler family for quite some time, and I look forward to Anissa Gray's next novel. Thank you to FirstToRead for my free ARC.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and the characters. Early on, I felt some confusion about what Althea and Proctor had done. Perhaps the author did that intentionally, but because it wasn't clear, my focus was on figuring out what they had done rather than the on the character development. And the characters are beautifully drawn. I found each of the sisters and the daughters compelling and very human. Each had been damaged in their own way, but all seemed to heal and come in to their own. Great family portrait and a look at what family and parenting really means.

It was a good book, a little difficult to follow but I enjoyed the book none the less.

I would give this book 3.5 stars. It is a novel about family, their relationships, the past and how the past damages influences the future and even the next generations. Althea lost her mother when she was a teenager and becomes a “mother” of her three younger siblings. When she marries Proctor both raised her siblings. The couple also creates their own family and becomes twin daughters. Some bad choices bring Althea and Proctor to jail. The story is about the consequences of the past, damaged relationships, emotional scars and personal struggles. The characters are complex but I couldn’t connect with them. Every chapter has a different narrator (Althea, Violet, Lillian and the letters from Proctor to Althea). I usually like when there are different narrators because it helps me to explore deeper in the characters but not in this book. I think it is well written but at times slow moving and too much effort in setting the characters.

I thought this was an interesting story that described how dysfunctional a family can be. Just because you grew up in the same household doesn't mean your experiences or personal relationships with one another will be the same and in the case of the Butler family they can be starkly different. It seems like they each had their own traumatic experiences growing up that they swept under the rug instead of addressing head on. As adults you can see how this has negatively impacted their mental health manifesting as pent up anger and unhealthy habits. These unresolved issues also has a significant impact on how they subconsciously interact with others. It was interesting to see how their unresolved issues even infiltrates into the next generation affecting the twins and the coping mechanisms they chose to deal with their own difficult situations. It seems like this whole family needed a good dose of therapy as could most. I would have liked if the author delved deeper into the Butler siblings history growing up and how their individual experiences shaped them as adults.

I liked this book, but the narrative structure was a little hard to follow. I felt like the storytelling style could have been a little more direct, and I would have enjoyed it a lot more. That being said, I think this would be a great recommendation for a lot of other readers.

This is probably one of my favorite books that I have read this year! The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls is the story of the Butler Family after one of its members, Althea, and her husband Proctor, are sentenced to prison. It’s the story of this family’s attempts to cope with the aftermath of their arrest, trial, & imprisonment, as well as as Althea and her siblings attempts to cope with their traumatic childhood, including their mother dying at a young age, and their abusive father, a traveling preacher who was rarely emotionally or physically available. It’s about this family’s attempts to move out of their past and on with their future. The story is told from alternating points of view among the 3 sisters: Althea, as she struggles with the realization that in prison that she is not the parent she wanted to be; Lillian, who is raising Althea & Proctor’s 2 teenage daughters(Kim & Baby Vi), while coping with her history of abuse from her brother Joe, and her role in the decline of her own marriage; and Viola, recently separated from her significant other Eva, who comes through bulimia. Additionally, we get snippets from Proctor in the form of letters to Althea, written in prison. I highly recommend this book, and am looking forward to more from this author!

When a fractured family comes together after a life changing event, a lot of baggage, past hurts, and damaged relationships come along as well. Through the eyes of the 3 Butler sisters we learn about Althea and her husband's betrayal of a community and the repercussions these acts have on the entire family. The story encompasses a moment in the timeline of these people's lives, with hints and allusions as to past grievances. Overall, I enjoyed the story and felt compelled to read to the end. Considering this is a debut novel, I think the writing style was pretty decent, but there did seem to be a lack of definition for each separate personality. Sometimes the voices blended together, and I fear without the name of the character at the beginning of each chapter the differentiation might not have been easy. As the novel focused more as a snapshot and less a sweeping tale I understand the lack of backstory, but I do wish there had been a little more explanation of what motivated these characters and how they ended up where they were. There are a lot of problems and issues faced that deserved more discussion. Overall, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it. Book clubs especially would find much to discuss given the subject matter.

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 "...you 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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