The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

Trigger Warnings: Eating Disorders, Suicide Attempt, Physical and Mental Abuse

This was a beautifully moving story on what defines family and how family can get you through both the good and the bad.
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Well written story of three sisters and how each deals with the family dramas struggling to keep it together.  Definitely a book to recommend on dealing with family issues.
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Trigger Warning: Eating Disorders, Suicide Attempt, Abuse

After the shocking arrest of Althea and her husband, Althea's family tries to come together to pick up the pieces and move forward. But moving forward is next to impossible when everyone is already carrying a heavy burden from the past.

I really enjoyed this insight into life in a small community, and the after-effects of what happens when two upstanding leaders and benefactors are arrested and charged with actively defrauding their town and the people who believed in them.

The focus is on the family left behind—Lillian, the youngest and the one who is saddled with Althea's twin 15-year-old girls since she has moved back into their childhood home. Viola, a successful therapist for girls with eating disorders who is falling back into her own unhealthy patterns. Then there is Althea herself, the stand-in matriarch of the family who raised her younger siblings for years until their traveling preacher father finally came back. And of course there's Joe, but no one really cares about him and he's an asshole anyway.

Mostly, however, this was a deep dive into a broken family trying to heal from the horrors of the past, and grappling with the various facets of their father that each experienced, giving each sibling a different childhood yet a similar yearning for love and acceptance and a ceaseless hunger for recognition and satisfaction. Each sibling is incredibly successful in their own way, but suffer from their added traumas and burdens from their childhoods.

Bringing the situation to a head are Althea's children, Baby Vi and Kim, who have taken the brunt of the community's shaming at school and everywhere else for two years—from the arrest to the aftermaths of the sentencing. I really felt for both of them, who had had such lop-sided parenting from Althea and Proctor, and had to deal with poor Lillian's attempts to understand and help them and also be their friends.

In addition to the deep dive into family are the snippets of community and prison life and how complicated friendships and relationships are. While some secondary characters were more fleshed out than others, I really liked the theme of moving forward and second (or in some cases, twentieth) chances, and finding that life does go one after you hit rock bottom, and the metaphor of women as water.

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
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This was a moving story on family and what it means to pretty much get through the good and the bad together. The writing was superb, and the story flowed beautifully. 

Portraying the many struggles each family member endured made it that much more relatable to me. One sister developed an eating disorder, one cheated on her late husband which caused her to throw herself into helping others (a little too much), and one ends up going to prison for fraud. Their actions shaped this book and I have and will recommend it to anyone I can get to sit still long enough to listen to me.
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This is the story of three sisters, Althea, Lillian and Viola. They are bound together by blood and dysfunction. It's an impressive exploration of how a shared past and upbringing binds siblings together. The sisters are forced to deal with each other when the eldest sister Althea, along with her husband, is arrested for a crime. Lillian and Viola must step into the void and care for the couple's children. This is made that much more complicated by the fact that Althea's children have dysfunction and conflicts of their own.
This is beautifully written prose and readers will appreciate the skillful composition as well as with the compelling story. All the characters are rich and complex and keep the reader intrigued and thinking.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing an advanced reader's copy.
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Great story of a family that rallies around a crisis. Eldest sister of three Althea pulls her family up. This is a beautifully written book about family and secrets.
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A wonderfully fleshed-out portrait of a dysfunctional family (aren't most?) going through an extremely challenging time and somehow finding a way to face their past and pull together. The characters felt authentic, their emotions, responses, and inner monologues all true to character and relatable. The writing was excellent and created a very human story without veering into melodrama where each voice was unique and engaging in her own way. There were moments of hope and family and love so that, while ultimately a sad tale, I didn't feel dragged down by it. Definitely recommended.
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This is an amazing story, a moving family drama. Proctor and Althea are arrested which astounds everyone. They seemed to be the least likely to have committed a felony, fraud. The story covers their relationship, within and without the prison system. It also portrays the struggles of their family. This is beautifully done!
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A debut novel that I'll be thinking about and recommending for years to come. Families are messy and they bring us to the darkest parts of ourselves, but they can also offer a refuge and a place to sit within that darkness but not be alone. Anissa Gray makes you feel deeply each perspective in this book which lets us live a little outside ourselves.
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Complex, wonderful, painful book.  Gray's ability to take many points of view and have those points of view intersect is quite complex and yet totally readable.
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The Butler sisters--Althea, Viola, and Lillian--had a difficult childhood. Their mother died when Lillian was a baby. Their father was--difficult--and often absent on preaching missions. Althea became a substitute mother for the younger girls.

The only boy, Joe, was his own kind of problem.

Now they're all adults. Althea married Proctor, and they started a restaurant and had twin daughters, Kim and Baby Vi. Althea and Proctor became pillars of the community. Viola went to Chicago, became a psychologist, and married Eva. Lillian moved to New York, became an an interior designer, married Sam. And then she and Sam divorced, and she returned to Michigan. When Sam died, she took in his aged grandmother, Nai Nai, and as unlikely as it might be, they became a family.

And now everything is coming apart. Our first hint of this is that Althea and Proctor are in jail, awaiting sentencing, and the twins, Kim and Baby Vi, are staying with Lillian, in the home the Butler siblings grew up in.

In alternating chapters from the viewpoint of each sister, and letters from Proctor, we learn how they got to this point, and how they go on from it.

Every one of the siblings has issues from their upbringing.

Althea, with too much responsibility too young, a mother to her siblings from age twelve, when she was grieving herself, even with a loving husband and the respect of the community, has never felt loved for herself. The need for respect has pushed her to do everything to build her restaurant up more and more, ultimately going too far, with Proctor going down with her

Viola, missing her mom, unable to win her father's approval, developed an eating disorder she still struggles with.

Lillian, with no real memory of her mother at all, also badly needed love. Althea and Proctor had taken all her siblings with them when they married, but after a time, their father asked for Lillian and Joe to come to live with him. Althea was reluctant, but they'd be nearby, and Joe was old enough to be somewhat responsible, and she and Proctor were still a young couple starting a business.

It's a while before we learn that for all the elder Mr. Butler's harsh manner and harsh rules, the genuinely abusive one is Joe.

As the personalities and events unfold, we come to care about all the sisters, and Althea's daughters. Althea is outwardly the coldest, and the hardest to like, but for reasons that make all too much sense to me. Let me be absolutely clear: Don't put your kid in the position of mothering their younger siblings. And if you have no choice but to do that, make sure you recognize what they're doing for you, and make sure they know you appreciate what they're doing and how hard it is for them.

Lilian is now trying to mother Althea's daughters, in the home where her siblings lived with their parents, where she lived with her father and Joe. The home she needs to let go of, and can't, even though she's completely renovated it to make it not the same place.

Viola had made a life for herself in Chicago, but now she and Eva are separated, and Viola's eating disorder is rearing its ugly head again. She can't get herself back to New River Junction for the sentencing of Althea and Proctor, but she does get back the day after.

They all have a lot of learning, growing, and healing to do, and I couldn't stop reading.


I received a free electronic galley from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.
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I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

"The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls" is a novel about a family. The Butler family is a family that continues to have problem after problem. The novel goes from Althea's trial to being the eldest sister of her family. The novel is written so beautifully and tells the story of dysfunctional family so well. An enjoyable novel about a family who comes together when tragedy happens.
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This book has a ton of things going for it but for some reason it just wasn’t the book for me. I couldn’t connect to any of the characters and despite the intriguing story line and great writing I found myself getting bored. There may have been too many things going on in it, or I just might not have been in the right mind space for it. Despite my not loving it, I still think that a lot of people will really enjoy this family drama and should give it a chance if the synopsis sounds intriguing to them.
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An exceptional debut novel that unpacks the endlessly complicated dynamics between sisters, mothers, and daughters and highlights how a parent's actions can have a lasting impact on generations to come. You can't help but absorbed by this unflinchingly honest portrayal of a fractured family and the complex relationships that help build your identity.
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What happens to a Michigan family when both parents are sent to prison?  This is the “ripped from the headlines” story explored in Anissa Gray’s debut novel, The Care And Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls.  In her book, Gray introduces us to the Cochran family, consisting of husband and wife Proctor and Althea, and their teenage twin daughters, Kim and Baby Vi.  When Porter and Althea are arrested for crimes involving their family-owned restaurant and sentenced to prison, Althea’s sisters, Viola and Lillian, step in and try to make sense of the destruction left in their wake. 

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls alternates in POV among the three sisters, Althea, Viola, and Lillian as they try to control the chaos within their family after the Cochrans’ sentencing.  Althea’s home is now a prison cell, and she spends her days writing letters to Proctor, reading her mother’s Bible, thinking about her childhood, and associating with her fellow inmates.  Viola makes her way to Michigan from her home in Chicago, where she is leaving behind a destroyed relationship with her wife, and bringing with her an eating disorder.  Lillian lives in the sisters’ childhood home, and is caring for her deceased ex-husband’s grandmother, as well as Althea’s daughters, Kim and Baby Vi.  While Baby Vi seems to be taking the news of her parents’ incarceration in stride, Kim is lost somewhere between guilt and rage.  Shame for putting her father in prison, but anger towards her mother, who she feels never loved her enough.  

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls is at its heart, a story about family sticking together and supporting one another through the toughest times.  Gray brings you deep inside the inner workings of the Cochran and Butler families, exploring the impact of the parent-child relationship throughout generations.  Reading as a work of literary fiction, Gray has written a beautifully heartbreaking story about love and loss.  Readers who enjoy the work of Tayari Jones will also enjoy this novel about perseverance and survival.  This book is also perfect for readers who don’t mind a story that moves quickly, but has little plot development - this novel is all about the characters and their relationships with one another.

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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Anissa Gray has woven together a fast paced family drama. The Butler family, with a devastating history is once again trying to hold themselves together in the aftermath of the sentencing of the elder sister, Althea, and her husband, Proctor. Leaving their two daughters, Baby V and Kim in the custody of Althea’s younger sisters. 

There is a lot of emotion in their story, and each member of the Butler family has their own past that comes unraveling through this new tribulation. The story switches between the Butler sisters, and letters from Proctor to produce a heart wrenching family saga. 

I was drawn into this story immediately. Gray’s narrative flows well, giving you enough of each of the sister’s perspective to build a connection with and leave you wanting to get to know them further. I appreciated learning about each of the sister’s backstory, and seeing their own personal struggles through their eyes and how their family functioned when they were younger. I think that character development added well to their personalities, life choices, and how they handled the current turn of events. I’m drawn to family sagas, and this, while short and to the point left me feeling for this family and their experiences. If anything, I wanted the story to continue. 

Thank you @NetGalley and @BerkleyPub for providing me an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.
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As I have stated so many times in the past, and I doubt this will be the last time, I believe that each reader’s experience of a book is colored by their own background, personality and relationships; this is what makes reading such an individual pursuit, but also makes for meaningful discussion and offers the opportunity to broaden our perspective. 

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls impacted me on a very personal level; I have experience with both incarceration and disordered eating (and I will note that individuals for whom these are difficult topics should be aware of their presence within this novel), so I felt very connected to several of the characters within this book. 

"I always promised myself I’d never be one fo those crisis Christians, running to God or Jesus or whoever in times of trouble. But here I am. In trouble. In crisis. Sitting up here in jail Bible study."

While the story is centered around married couple Althea and Proctor, who are sentenced to incarceration in federal prison after defrauding their community through charity events, it includes Althea’s two sisters and brother as well as Althea and Proctor’s two daughters. What makes the story remarkable is that each of these family members are hurting, all stricken with wounds that continue to reopen with each new development they are forced to endure. As I was once told, hurting people hurt people; that statement proves true in this novel.  

In addition, each have found their own methods of coping with their pain; as one might guess, they are not healthy mechanisms and present their own set of problems that affect they way in which they interact with one another. Before you reject this one in despair, the beauty is found in Gray’s ability to built such rich, complex characters, full of so much compassion and descriptive emotion that I found myself irreversibly connected to their stories. 

"Women like me pay attention to very thin girls like her who leave full or overly messy or manipulated plates. I’ve been watching Baby Vi for some time - claiming to prefer plain tea; rearranging food, but not eating it; pleading ‘I’m not hungry’ when she should be - and I don’t like what I’m seeing."

I have read comparisons of this one to both The Mothers and An American Marriage (my review), but I don’t find those to be appropriate; if anything, thanks to the intense family element and difficult circumstances, I might compare this to A Place for Us. Nevertheless, I have a feeling this will be one of my favorite books of the year and, while my experience is certainly colored by my own story, I highly recommend giving this one a try.
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The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls is a beautiful portrait of a family haunted by the past.  It asks the difficult questions regarding loyalty, truth, and forgiveness.  A perfect read for book clubs!
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In the opening scene of The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, Althea, the female head of her family, is in jail and awaiting a trial. We quickly learn some backstory on the Butler family. Althea is the oldest of her siblings, and when her mother passes away, she’s in charge of everyone else. 

Althea later marries Proctor, a man she met at her mother’s funeral when they were both young children. Althea and Proctor are charming, vital members of their local community, owning their own restaurant and giving back to the community. 

One day, seemingly out of the blue, Proctor and Althea, now parents to twin daughters, are arrested at their business. The worst part? They are charged with stealing from their local community members. 

With Althea in prison, her sisters, Viola and Lillian, now step in to help her with raising her teenage daughters. 

Who is at the center of the drama as it unravels this family?  There are real issues addressed, including eating disorders and addiction, layers of pain, heartache, and scars. 

I connected to Althea from the start. When she described her experience in prison, I felt like I was right along side her experiencing the same things.

The story is told through Althea, Viola, and Lillian’s narrations, which offers a unique perspective on the goings on in this family. The Butlers seem to be in a downward spiral, and I wanted something to happen to right them again, to make it all stop and glue them back together. I was invested in their outcomes. 

Overall, The Care and Feeding is an insightful and original perspective on complex family dynamics and hope for second chances. 

I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
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We hear from three sisters in this novel about family. Althea and Proctor have been arrested for scamming their community. But Lillian and Viola have some secrets of their own. Althea's two daughters struggle with living in a town filled with angry and unforgiving people and Joe has to accept what he did to his sister. 
This started off somewhat boring for me, but then I really started to connect with and care for the characters.  I would definitely recommend this to library patrons as there's a lot to unbox and discuss.
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