Family by Micol Ostow
New York: Egmont, 2011
5 out of 5
One the surface, it is a day like any other when seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen hits the road for San Francisco, leaving behind her fractured home life and a constant assault on her self-esteem. Henry is the handsome, charismatic man who comes upon her, collapsed on a park bench, and offers love, a bright new consciousness, and -- best of all -- a family. One that will embrace her and give her love. Because family is what Mel has never really had. And this new family, Henry's family, shares everything. They share the chores, their bodies, and their beliefs. And if Mel truly wants to belong, she will share in everything they do. No matter what the family does, or how far they go.
I was happily surprised to discover this was a novel in verse (otherwise known as poetry). The cover captivated me from the moment I first saw it and the verse element meant that I had to read it. Right now. I read this in a few hours because it was just too good to put down (and short sentences make for quick reading).
The verse gives an authentic feel and voice to Mel. It feels like memories in snippets. For many people it is difficult to imagine why a cults are appealing. This style, to my mind, helps show (as opposed to just tell) how and why Mel finds herself feeling safe and secure as a member of Henry's family.
The family is supposed to share everything and the leader is God. This point is well made with the both the lack and use of capitalization. Repetition is also used very well. It brings urgency to certain passages and understanding to others.
Though the subject matter isn't the happiest, this is a fantastic read.