The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

I could not get through the first few chapters. The characters and the plot were laid out disjointedly, I did not connect with anything that made me want to continue reading.
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First, thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.  Ok, I LOVED this!  With a soul food / turner house vibe, Gray really digs deep and pours out about mental health and the stereotypes within the black community.  I appreciate how she presents mental health as being manageable under the proper care, because it is!  She discusses healthy coping mechanisms and working through enough to reach out for help.  I am normally one to spoil it all, however, I can’t say how much I love this without spoiling, and I REALLY want people to read this one!  So no spoilers this time!  However, I f**king loved this book and I’ll be singing my praises for it for the rest of this year, at least.
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The title alone made me curious to read this book, and let me tell you, I was not disappointed.

Althea and Proctor are jailed for scamming their community, and they leave their twin daughters to be raised by Althea's sisters. Althea, as a young child, was forced to raise her younger siblings while their father traveled as a minister.  Revelations, family issues, and healing is what this book is about. 

This book reminds me of the saying the sins of the father/mother visit the children. I felt for Althea the most because of the position she was put in at a young age. Of course, her experience influenced the way she raised her siblings and her children. 

This is a deep book, indeed. This book will make a great book club pick.
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The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray is a 2019 Berkley publication. 

Even healthy and happy families are complicated and complex. This is especially true with mother and daughter relationships, and the connections between sisters. In this novel, Gray examines the darker aspects of the relationship between three sisters as they struggle to make peace with a turbulent past. 

The reader must watch as they slowly, and often painfully, accept a new set of equally challenging circumstances, and learn to cope with personal demons, while trying to do what is best for the next generation. 

Althea helped to raise her younger siblings, often taking the brunt of their abusive father’s righteous wrath. Now, as adults, Althea and her husband, Procter, are facing prison time, which means their twin daughters, Kim and Baby Vi, are staying with Althea’s sister, Lillian.

Lillian, a widow, who is already taking care of her aging former mother-in-law, is at a loss about how to deal Kim’s problems. Lillian is haunted by her own experience with abuse, while Viola, on a break from her long-term girlfriend, is struggling to keep her eating disorder at bay. 

This novel is a poignant, yet powerful debut novel. The story alternates between the first- person narrative of the three sisters, as they each share their own journey from the past to the present.

This technique is especially effective here, as the reader can see the same set of events from different perspectives. Each sister endured a traumatic childhood, and is coping in her own individual way, while harboring unique memories, fears, and resentments.

However, Lillian and Viola rise to the occasion when they become responsible for their nieces, while Althea must take responsibility for her actions, and accept the reality of her own proclivities and shortcomings. 

The future offers hope, as they all begin the journey towards forgiveness, acceptance, and healing, not only as individuals, but as strong women, mothers, daughters, sisters and family. 

Even though the story lags in a few spots, it is realistic, raw, and unflinchingly emotional, but above all, hopeful. I know I will think of these characters often and wish them well. 

A very solid and personal debut novel!
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The story and voice of this book was fantastic. However, it was very slow and difficult to follow after a certain point in the story.
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I loved this story. The drama between the sisters and the mother was fierce and fascinating.  I will definitely recommend at the library.
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This book is centered around a fractured family.  A family that has been force to come together after their oldest sister Althea, and her husband, Proctor,  are sentence to prison for fraud.  With Althea in prison, youngest sister Lilian is forced to step in as a caregiver to Althea’s daughters Baby V, and Kim.  Another sister, Vivian joins in their care, as she is quietly battling her own issues.  But everyone in this family is struggling with something.   Baby V barely speaks, and Kim, who already had a difficult relationship with her mother is both rebelling and deteriorating mentally.   Vivian is struggling with an eating disorder, and Lilian is coping with the torture she experienced at the hands of her brother Joe, and the role she played in her failed marriage, while also caring for her former mother-in-law.  All under the roof that houses few good memories for them.  

The best way to describe this novel is heavy.  This family’s issues run deep, and is only brought to the surface because of Althea’s and Proctor’s incarceration.  The characters felt real, their struggles relatable and their feelings comes right off the page.  Baby V, Kim, Lillian and Vivian are all very sympathetic characters.  It was hard not to feel for them.  However, with the numerous conflicts, characters who are battling something,  those emotions were overwhelming for me as a reader.  I found that each character required a certain amount of emotional capacity.  At the conclusion of this book, I felt exhausted.  Emotionally exhausted.

Overall I give this book 3.5 stars.  This was a great introduction to Anissa Gray, and I would definitely recommend this book.
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I was not able to enjoy the book as much as I'd hoped. Partly to things in my personal life at the time. It seemed well written, and sagas are always fun to read. I plan on revisiting this title again in the future.
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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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