Author: Emily Gray Tedrowe
Publisher: Harper Perennial (Harper Collins)
Release Date: June 29, 2010
I almost ended up not participating in this tour because of some postal mishaps that led me to initially not receive this book. But thankfully everyone involved made sure I was still able to get a copy of this debut which I'm thankful for because I would have really missed out had I not read this one.
Commuters tells the story of a family of three generations -- it begins with the wedding of Winnie and Jerry, a widow and widower in their late 70's. It's an elaborate wedding, at least considerably so for their ages -- according to most of the younger characters in the story. One of the main issues with this new family is the financial aspect -- Jerry is apparently a wealthy man whose money his daughter, Annette, fears will be distributed otherwise than the initial plan. This leads her to make decisions that only tear her and her father apart, and put strain on the rest of the family. But Winnie's children (well, really just her daughter, Rachel) aren't too much better. They are dealing with their own family turmoil after Rachel's husband suffers a mysterious injury. And then there's Winnie, herself, adjusting to her new way of living and insisting on building an underground pool in her front yard.
It's difficult to describe this story and its plot because of its quiet, observant nature. Not that it's devoid of plot, because that's not the case; instead, it's more broad; it's about a family and their difficulties adjusting to changes in their lives -- changes which are enhanced by the marriage of the grandparents but which really just shines a light on what issues were there all along. And though this didn't affect my reading of it, it's also difficult for me to relate, personally, to any of the characters because of my own family situation. I am in a small family with little to no interaction with any extended relatives; therefore, the dynamics of all three generations were those that I'm unfamiliar with but that, I think, others who can relate would appreciate.
Along those lines, I'm very unfamiliar with talk of money and wills and who's going to be in the will, etc. though I've had these conversations with friends. All those thoughts are so surreal to me. Maybe it's because I'm not from a wealthy family, but this aspect of the family was fascinating to me -- it's hard for me to imagine having a care or thought about that, but for some families it must be significant... SO THEN imagine your elderly parent basically marrying into another family and how difficult it must be in that sense... forget that you're in your 40's and now have new step-siblings...
Anyway, the story is told in 3rd person but from three different points of view: Winnie, the grandmother and new bride; Rachel, her daughter and wife to a man who is no longer working due to that mysterious but significant injury he sustained; and Avery, the young man looking for meaning in his new adult life. (He lives in New York City so that was a surprise treat for me in this book... hehe).
The author, Emily Gray Tedrowe, truly did an excellent job with this book; the writing was great and everything was well-paced. And I truly liked the characters and wanted to continue on to see what happened to them. Ironically, I think my least favorite character was the elderly grandfather, Jerry... I don't necessarily think he was meant to be portrayed in a negative light, but I didn't like the role he assumed in the marriage. He seemed sort of controlling to me, sort of like his wife was not an equal in the marriage -- maybe this is due to their age and what they were used to... not sure. But then my favorite character was the 20-year-old Avery. He's sort of stuck in the middle of his mother, Annette, who is not a likable character, but one I bet many can relate to, and his grandfather.
Ah, now I seem to be rambling. Basically, if you like enjoyable characters or stories of "family portraits" and the dynamics among family members, you can't go wrong with this thoroughly satisfying, observant story of "commuters".
Emily Gray Tedrowe was on Blog Talk Radio with Book Club Girl, so if you're interested you ca listen to that here.
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for ensuring I had the opportunity read this fantastic book!
I was the last stop, but click on the links below to see earlier reviews:
Thursday, July 1st: Devourer of Books
Monday, July 5th: My Random Acts of Reading
Tuesday, July 6th: Til We Read Again
Wednesday, July 7th: Books Like Breathing
Tuesday, July 13th: Booksie’s Blog
Wednesday, July 14th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, July 21st: Chaotic Compendiums
Wednesday, July 28th: Bookstack
Thursday, July 29th: Reading at the Beach
Tuesday, August 3rd: lit*chick
Thursday, August 5th: Life Is A Patchwork Quilt
Wednesday, August 18th: Take Me Away