The Flying Troutmans

by

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Author: Miriam Toews

Title:  The Flying Troutmans

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 282

Geographical Setting:  Canada, Western United States

Time Period: 21st century, present day

Plot Summary: Hattie has dealt with her sister’s mental illness off and on for years, but she is pulled back into that orbit when her niece calls frantically needing her help to deal with her mom’s depression.  Hattie returns to Canada to help her niece and nephew, Thebes and Logan, after their mom is committed to a psych ward.  Unsure of how to be a single parent, Hattie decides the best course of action is to road trip with the kids in search of their father, who they haven’t seen in years.  The relationship that develops between Hattie and Thebes and Logan is heartwarming.  Toews takes quirky characters like Thebes, the purple-haired, hip-hop talking, 11 year old and the moody, silent 15 year old Logan and makes them real.  Toews strips them of their defense mechanisms and reveals them as scared kids who have had to grow up to fast.  The make-shift family that comes to life mile by mile on the road is endearing and inspiring.

Subject Headings: Dysfunctional families, Mental illness, Domestic fiction

Appeal: bittersweet, humorous, thoughtful, engaging, moving, sympathetic, endearing, family-centered, contemporary, steady pace

3 terms that best describe this book: character-driven, quirky, thought provoking

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Shoot the Damn Dog: A Memoir of Depression by Sally Brampton

Bramptontells of her own struggles with depression and alcoholism.  She offers an honest and heart-wrenching memoir of her time spent in and out of institutions and her experiences with various treatments.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

This is Walls’ memoir of growing up in a dysfunctional family with alcoholic parents.  It is a heart-breaking account of children who had to grow up too fast and take on responsibilities beyond their years.

The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer

This is another memoir of childhood, but not as dark as The Glass Castle.  Moehringer writes about his extended and eccentric family.  With an absent father and a busy mother, Moehringer forms a close relationship with his Uncle Charlie and spends much of his childhood at Charlie’s bar.  Like The Flying Troutmans, this is a story of growing up and finding family.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Loving Donovan by Bernice L. McFadden

This is a character-driven story of growing up in a dysfunctional family and trying to overcome life’s hurdles.

The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall

Like The Flying Troutmans, this is a darkly humorous look at a troubled childhood with a quirky cast of heart-warming characters.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

This is another character-driven, heart-warming novel with a strong theme of family woven throughout the story.

Name: Katie LaFramboise


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