A multigenerational story following the Marte sisters and the two daughters. The plot is in the title, this is a book of family lore. Their histories, their magic, their lives leading up to the “living wake” of the second oldest aunt, Flor, who knows when people will die.
I’ll be honest in that I felt my own lack while reading this book. Lack in what, I’m not sure— maybe culture, maybe the particular love for family, probably both. Family Lore felt like a love letter to Dominican women and the complicated mess that is familial relationships.
I was so endeared to these characters despite not always knowing where the story was heading or what the “point” of it was. I believe now, having finished it, that Acevedo is inviting us to sit around a table with these characters and enjoy a cafecito while they told their stories.
The Marte women are special, most of them hold special gifts. Flor can predict the day when someone will die. Pastora knows when someone is lying. Camila has a gift for herbs. Matilde doesn't have a gift but has problems of her own. The 2nd generation, Oona and Yadi, are dealing with infertility and a returned lover. Flor has decided to throw herself a living wake, turning everyone's life upside as they help her prepare. Going back and forth between the past and the present in the days leading up to the wake, Family Lore explores how the past will catch up with you and one family's journey.
There were multiple things I loved about this book- I loved learning about Dominican family customs and food. I loved the family relationships, especially the sister/daughter because that is something I am familiar with. I loved the magical realism with the women's gifts and how they played out throughout the book. I will say that when the book traveled to the past, it felt abrupt and I had to realign myself to where I was in the timeline. I also would have like a family tree but the description at the beginning helped.
I was excited to read this one, as I loved With the Fire on High. What an interesting concept! It wasn't what I expected, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Elizabeth Acevedo's writing is beautiful, as always. I did find myself getting confused with all the characters; I would have liked a family tree or chart of some sort.
This book was excellent! Acevedo’s way with words and characters is truly unmatched. As a long time fan of her work, it was great reading new work from a new genre. The multiple POV’s in the book were my favorite part. I just love seeing the characters different perspectives
I'm sorry, Elizabeth. It's not you. It's me.
This book just did not speak to me. It did not have the same lovable characters from her other works. Instead, it had too many characters that all felt somewhat under-developed.
I just left the book disappointed :(
Elizabeth Acevedo's latest, Family Lore, is a multigeneral tale of the matriarchal Marte clan steeped deep in tradition and magical realism. Tracing their roots from the Dominican Republic through the streets of New York City, Family Lore examines the impact of generational trauma through a shared family history across the Marte descendants.
When Flor, the eldest Marte sister, tells her siblings that she is planning a living wake for herself, the rest of her family assumes that Flor has seen the date of when she will die. When she won't tell her family what she has foreseen, the lies the sisters have been keeping from each other threaten to tear at the seams as each struggles to handle their magical tendencies in conjunction with the idea of Flor's impending death.
Told between three generations of Marte women - the mother, the aunts and their children - Family Lore provides a great look at how unresolved tension and conflict flows linearly through each generation until someone does the work to examine the root cause.
I really liked Family Lore - it is not a quick read and not for the person looking for a fluff piece - it's a beautiful piece of literature that pays homage to Dominicans while elevating the struggles of immigrants into NYC. The only reason I didn't rate this higher is because the ending didn't close up all the ties I had hoped for - it felt rushed and I would have like to see the Marte story end more full circle.
Thanks to NetGalley, Elizabeth Acevedo and Ecco for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
So beautiful. It’s about the aunts and the history and their gifts. But pared down to the core, it’s about finding and recognizing the beauty that is family and the relationships we have with each other.
The story follows a Dominican family in the Washington Heights area of New York City and centers around the women in the family, many of whom have gifts. The timeline switches between present day New York and the older generation’s past in the Dominican Republic.
There were so many beautiful and complicated relationships. Mothers and daughters, sisters, cousins, husbands and wives, queer relationships, ex-lovers, new-maybe-lovers-who-were-also-your-best-friend-before-they-went-to-prison, grandparents and grandchild, and one’s relationship to their lineage and homeland. But there was also so much self discovery in this book.
It was fascinating to see the back and forth between the older generation and their youths in the motherland, how they changed and grew, and how a lot of their actions in the present day and how they treated their family could be traced back to those past experiences. I particularly resonated with the two cousins in the younger generation (one was queer, one was vegetarian, and they both went to the same college as me!) and their struggle to break bad generational cycles and maintain healthy relationships with their family. The powers the women had were definitely fantastical but were woven so seamlessly into the story that they actually felt so effortless, and to be honest I really wanted Pastora’s gift of being able to tell when someone is lying.
Family Lore talks about what home means, what family means, what makes you who you are, the magic of women, of love, and identity. Read. This. Book.
I have been a huge fan of Acevedo in the past, but this one did not work for me. I tried over the course of a couple months and a few different times picking it up, but I couldn't connect with it for some reason. I'm still looking forward to her next one because she is a phenomenal author. .
Fascinating story of a family and the lives they live and how they entwine. This is the first book by this author, and I was impressed with her style.
Although this is not by top book of the year, I know friends who will love this book for me to recommend!
3.5 ⭐️ Was not what I was expecting considering I loved her other YA books. I enjoyed the story overall but was not a fan of the interview style and multiple POV style the book was written in and the alternating timeline of the story..
I'm sorry, but this book was unbelievably boring. I had the hardest time trudging through it. I made it through, but had a hard time keeping the characters straight, because I couldn't invest myself in their various stories. I'd pass.
"Family Lore" by Elizabeth Acevedo is a powerful and emotionally resonant collection of poems that delves into the intricacies of family dynamics. Acevedo skillfully weaves together personal narratives, capturing the essence of familial relationships with raw honesty and vulnerability. The poems explore themes of love, heritage, and the impact of generational stories on individual identities. With her evocative language and poignant storytelling, Acevedo creates a poignant journey through the tapestry of family lore that lingers in the reader's heart.
When I saw that Elizabeth Acevedo had written an adult book, I was curious to read it. I really enjoyed Clap When You Land, so I had high hopes. However, those hopes fell short. There were A LOT of characters to try and keep up with, so that made it pretty confusing. I struggled keeping the characters separate and that made it hard to lose myself in their stories.
Flor can predict when someone will die. She surprises her sisters when she decides that she wants a living wake. Has she seen her own death or someone else's. Flor refuses to tell them. Her sisters have their own secrets. This story spans the three days prior to the wake and discusses the lives of each of the sisters.
A beautiful family drama highlighting love in all of its forms. Acevedo is one of my favorite authors, and I think she did a beautiful job with her first dive into adult fiction. This novel felt like its own little world, slowly drawing me in until the very last word - when I wanted more about the generations of Marte women, and how their lives wind together, apart, and back together again. The magical realism was one of my favorite parts, even though it sometimes felt like an afterthought because of everything else in this novel. Still, a great read, and I'll be eager to read her next adult book, too.
I had trouble getting into this book and ended up skimming through it. What a bummer! The premise just didn’t do it for me.
Family Lore is Elizabeth Acevedo's adult debut and while I haven't read her YA works, I was familiar with the regard they inspired. Now that I've read Family Lore, I can see what all the hype is about. Acevedo is a powerful writer whose prose is breathtaking and gripping.
In Family Lore, we meet a Domenican-American family who has all come together to participate in a living wake for the family's eldest member. We find ourselves going through the family's past, covering multiple generations and storylines. There's a lot to keep up with here and perhaps the ending doesn't feel entirely tied up but Acevedo's writing is compelling and I am definitely interested in reading more from her.
Ugh I love a good family saga mixed with magical realism, so this book was right up my alley!
Flor has a special gift: she knows when someone will die. When she decides to have a living wake, the family knows that she has most likely predicted her own death. Each woman in the family has their own gift, and in being faced with Flor’s death, they begin to reflect on their own lives.
First I just have to say that the writing in this is INSANE. It is so beautiful. However, there were so many parts that took me out of the story and made it feel disjointed including: multiple POVs from characters that weren’t distinct, sudden and graphic descriptions of sex, sudden changes in timelines. These things were distracting enough to take me out of the story and not feel a connection to the characters.
Overall, this is an important story but the structure wasn’t for me. Still highly recommend!
3/5 magical stars
I am a HUGE fan of Acevedo's young adult novels and I was SO excited for this one. However, I don't think I'm quite the right fit for this book. I know it was largely an ode to Aceveo's family and heritage and so maybe this was not relatable enough for me -- but would be a great fit and really resonate with people from similar family structures and heritage. I struggled with the structure of this book -- the different characters (many!) and it switching between them. I usually enjoy multiple points of view but this was too many characters and too much switching for me (whereas I know this works for others). Ultimately I think this just wasn't a good fit for me but others could love it.