Posts Tagged ‘Family dynamics’

Await Your Reply

October 17, 2012

Author:  Dan Chaon

Title:  Await Your Reply

Genre:  Psychological Suspense

Publication Date:  2009

Number of Pages:  320

Geographical Setting:  Various locations throughout the U.S. (including Ohio, Michigan, Nebraska) and abroad (Canada and Ivory Coast)

Time Period:  2000’s

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:

Three seemingly disparate narratives, divided into three sections, comprise this book.

-Miles Cheshire searches for his missing, mentally unstable twin brother, Hayden- a search that has consumed him for the past ten years.

-After discovering that he was adopted, Ryan Schuyler drops out of college at nineteen to join his real father, Jay, who involves Ryan in his fraud and identity theft schemes.

-Lucy Lattimore is an orphan who runs away with George Orson, her former high school history teacher, looking for a new life.

Rotating between each of the characters, the stories are connected via themes of loss and identity, and perhaps much more.  A compelling read that addresses ideas of self and reinvention, Await Your Reply builds in intensity as readers discover the interconnectedness of the characters’ lives and the dangerous consequences of journeys ill-chosen.

Subject Headings:  Identity theft, Secret identity, Twins, Missing persons, Runaways, Adoption, Family relationships, Teacher-student relationships, Embezzling, Cybercrime, Second chances, Truth.

Appeal:  Compelling, Character-driven, Intricately plotted, Multiple storylines, Disturbing, Bleak, Complicated, Suspenseful, Unrelenting, Family dynamics, Twin brothers, Secrets, Reinventing yourself, Search for truth, Quest for identity, Criminal activity (identity theft/cybercrime).

Three appeal terms that best describe this book:  Compelling, Character-driven, Intricately plotted.

Similar Authors and Works:

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Stealing Your Life:  The Ultimate Identity Theft Prevention Plan  by Frank W. Abagnale

From counterfeiting expert and author of Catch Me If You Can, comes a book about identity theft that discusses both the methods used by criminals and the steps people can take to prevent and/or deal with becoming victims themselves.  Await Your Reply involves characters that are perpetrators of identity theft.  Readers searching for more information about identity theft may find the many case histories and suggestions included in this book to be useful.

2.  Kingpin:  How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground  by Kevin Poulsen

Kingpin follows the rise and fall of Max Butler, a criminal hacker who stole access to over a million credit card accounts, exposing readers to hacking culture and the cybercriminal underworld along the way.  Readers who found the secretive and dangerous aspects of the crimes committed by the characters in Await Your Reply intriguing could find this title to be a compelling read.

3.  Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited  by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein

Two sisters, separated as infants by an adoption agency, reunite later in life.  In this book, they share the journey of their relationship from strangers to sisters.  Await Your Reply includes twin brothers as prominent characters.  Readers interested in learning more about twins and their relationship with one another may find this book to be a good match- it includes both information about twin studies and statistics as well as the emotion connection that the sisters form.

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.  The Talented Mr. Ripley  by Patricia Highsmith

Tom Ripley travels to Italy to convince a former classmate, the wealthy Dickie Greanleaf, to return home to his family.  Plans go awry when their friendship cools; Tom kills Dickie and assumes his identity.  Await Your Reply and The Talented Mr. Ripley are both character-driven psychological suspense stories that involve stolen identities, written in a spare and compelling style.

2.  Case Histories  by Kate Atkinson

Private detective Jackson Brodie investigates three past crimes, all involving dead and/or missing girls.  Although a mystery, Case Histories is similar to Await Your Reply for being character-driven, disturbing and suspenseful.  Both stories also contain multiple storylines that involve family relationships and missing persons.

3.  The Cloud of Unknowing  by Thomas H. Cook

Diana Sears doesn’t believe police reports that find the drowning of her son to be an accident.  In Diana’s obsessive search for answers, details about old crimes resurface and questions arise as to whether several murders may have been committed.  Both Await Your Reply and The Cloud of Unknowing are character-driven, disturbing, psychological suspense stories that are compelling to read.  Both stories also involve family relationships and Schizophrenia.

Name:  Nicole

Prayers for Bobby: A Mother’s coming to terms with the suicide of her gay son.

April 15, 2009

Prayers for Bobby: A Mother's Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son

Author: Leroy Aarons
Title: Prayers for Bobby: A mother coming to terms with the suicide of her gay son.

Genre: Non-fiction
Publication Date: 1995
Number of pages: 264
Geographical Setting: Walnut Creek, California
Time period: 1970’s-1990’s

Plot summary: This is a story that pulls at your inner beliefs and makes you think.  Beginning with the life of Bobby Griffith, the reader learns about a young creative and energetic boy that always stood out a little differently than the rest of his siblings.  The Griffiths, minus Bob Sr., were all very involved in the Christian faith.  Over time we learn from diary entries, that Bobby began as a teenager to realize his sexuality and at the same time struggle with his religious beliefs.  His family unfortunately added to the pressure on Bobby to change and to not be gay.  Realizing that he would never be able to change who he was, he internally struggled between his personal beliefs and the beliefs of his family, society, and the church.  Tragically Bobby Griffith found no answers or relief from his suffering and committed suicide at the young age of 20.  His death opened up a world of confusion and disbelief in his mother Mary.  The rest of the story is dedicated to the approach that Mary took to figuring out her feelings, her beliefs and dealing with her guilt.  It is a heart wrenching struggle from page 1, but it is a powerful story that will make the reader question beliefs, society, self awareness, and family dynamics.  This story is emotional, powerful, sad, and frustrating; At the same time it is hopeful for the future, forgiving of ignorance, and compassionate for others that struggle with self identity, homosexuality, guilt, and pride in oneself.  A moving and self-exploratory  read.

Subject headings: True Story, Gay, Homosexuality, Mother/Son relationships, Christianity, Gay Siblings/Relatives, PFLAG, Mary Griffith, Bobby Griffith,

Appeal:  emotional, moving, true, tragic, hopeful, intriguing, thoughtful, meaningful, heavy (emotionally), serious, details of: homosexuality, help for families of homosexuals, help for homosexuals, Christianity, family dynamics, gay lifestyles.

Similar works (fiction):

Scissors, paper, rock by Fenton Johnson:  A fiction story of a dying father and his gay son.  A look at the relationship dynamics between a father that disapproves of his son’s lifestyle and trying to reconcile before it is too late.

The big book of misunderstandings by Jim Gladstone:  a fictional coming of age story of a gay boy that learns of his homosexuality, contemplates suicide, and comes out to his parents.

Thinking Straight by Robin Reardon: a novel about a boy that comes out to his parents and is sent off to a camp that will put him on the right path and exorcise the “satanic influence.”  

Similar works (non-fiction):

Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America by Mel White: This is the story of a gay clergyman that struggles with his beliefs and coming to terms that he actually is a homosexual.  A deeper look at someone that needs to question their faith.

Straight parents, gay children: keeping families together by Robert Bernstein:  A story where families celebrate and publicly support their gay children.  Another story of success for families facing homosexuality.

Will’s choice: a suicidal teen, a desperate mother, and a chronicle of recovery by Gail Griffith: Not the same Griffith family, but a family that faces the same issues with a young son and his attempt at ending his live over his homosexuality.

Name: Emily