Sunday, August 18, 2019

Book Review: "The Floating Feldmans" by Elyssa Friedland

I love stories about family dynamics and family dysfunction. In Elyssa Friedland's new book, The Floating Feldmans, she brings three generations of a family together with an added twist—they're heading on a cruise to celebrate Annette Feldman's 70th birthday.

Annette decides that it's time for her family to start acting like a family, so she books them all on a Caribbean cruise. She knows there are tensions—she hasn't really forgiven ne'er-do-well son Freddy for calling her a bitch when he got kicked out of college, and her daughter Elise never seems to take her advice or have time for her—but she thinks her birthday is the perfect occasion to bring everyone together.

"She and David had given these children everything, so why did they hate her? She cringed thinking of that word. They didn't hate her. She chastised herself for even thinking it. They loved her, in that biological torrent that eclipses anything environmental. But did they like her? No, probably they did not."

Everyone agreed to go on the cruise—and not just because Annette and her husband were paying—but each is bringing a secret or two, in addition to the resentments they've been harboring for years. And it's not just secrets between the generations—there are secrets between family members as well. Throw all of this into the claustrophobic pressure-cooker of a cruise ship and disaster is sure to strike.

There is a lot going on here—addiction problems, job-related issues, secret relationships, lack of communication, health-related secrets—and ironically, the people they've been the angriest at may be the source of comfort and help in the end. But it's going to take more than midnight buffets to solve these problems!

The Floating Feldmans was a fun, soapy, melodramatic book that once again reminded me why I never want to go on a cruise, especially with my family! You've definitely seen these stories before and you know how everything will unfold, yet in Friedland's hands it doesn't feel like a retread. Amidst the misunderstandings and years-old hurts are real issues and real problems that need to be confronted, things that need to finally be said after going unsaid for so long.

I enjoyed this although I thought the storyline featuring the cruise director was a tangent that wasn't fully formed, so it almost seemed extraneous. This is definitely an engaging story that will hopefully make you thankful your family isn't this crazy!

No comments:

Post a Comment