STRANGERS AT THE FEAST BY JENNIFER VANDERBES

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10788703-strangers-at-the-feast” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Strangers at the Feast” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1306265366m/10788703.jpg” /></a><a  href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10788703-strangers-at-the-feast”>Strangers at the Feast</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/57440.Jennifer_Vanderbes”>Jennifer Vanderbes</a><br/>
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For many families, being together Thanksgiving Day is nothing less than a challenge. Strangers At The Feast by Jennifer Vanderbes (Scribner, ISBN 978-1-4391-6698-7, 334 Pages, $16.00 US/$18.99 CAN) is a true testimony to that. The Olson family matriarch, Elinor is introduced in the prologue and her life is defined by her family. “She could happily buy the groceries and weed the garden because everyone she cared about was well.  But if someone were to try to threaten that? Was there a length to which a mother wouldn’t go?” And it is with these words that the reason for the story  becomes clear.

Each member of the Olson family is introduced in individual chapters. Eleanor’s husband, Gavin, is a Vietnam Veteran who returned from the war not the same person he left as. He became more complex and withdrawn but he perservered and made a life with Elinore and his children Ginny and Douglas. Ginny is a single woman and an academic. She returns from a trip to India with a 7-year-old mute child that she calls her daughter even though she has not formally adopted her. Douglas is married to Denise and they have three children. Douglas is a disappointment to both himself and to Denise. His family has endured serious financial losses due to his career choices and Denise now has to work full-time to make the mortgage payments on the palace like house that they live in. It is in this house on Thanksgiving Day 2007 that their lives intersect with Spider and  Kijo-two young men from a nearby housing project.

Vanderbes skillfully gives voice to each of the characters-so much so that I felt I knew them. Only to find out in the end, I didn’t know them well enough at all.

This is a story of haves and have-nots and it examines the inherent rights of each group. This is also a story of pride and the possible consequences. But most of all, this is a story family and what it is capable of.

I found this book to be a psychological thriller and I highly recommend it.

***I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads***

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