The Family That Wasn't, by Gene Twaronite
Published: August 24, 2010
Genre: MG/YA Fantasy
Source: Provided by author for honest review
The Family That Wasn't is a humorous fable of how our families live inside us. It will appeal to both teen and adult readers. The 13-year-old narrator, John Boggle (whose real name is John Bazukas-O'Reilly-Geronimo-Giovanni-Li Choy-Echeverria), finds his family so impossibly crazy that he cannot stand living with them another moment. He invents a new perfect family so convincing that he suddenly finds himself living inside this imaginary world.
But John finds that he too has changed. He sees his too perfect image in the mirror and begins to wonder if it is all some kind of mistake. Only trouble is, now he can't remember who he is. He only knows that he must leave this family at once. His sole clue is the name, John Boggle.
To find his true family he embarks on a cross country quest. Along the way he encounters other characters who have also lost touch with their families. Together they must find a way to reconstruct the connections to bring back the family that once was.
There's such a thin line between middle grade and young adult that I'm not so sure there's a definitive line at all. I realized by the blurb that this was more middle grade than the young adult I typically enjoy, so I wasn't sure if I wanted to take the chance. However, the concept and the cover drew me in, so I decided to give it a shot.
I'm glad I did. It started off a little slow as we are introduced to how John's crazy family came to be, but it soon picks up and the action doesn't stop from that point on. Each of the characters had these quirks that would drive any child crazy, and a few of them reminded me of people in my life.
While it was geared toward younger readers and I normally don't enjoy such a thing, it definitely drew me. I felt like I was in the middle of a Tim Burton movie. It had that dark humorous feel to it, and I could definitely see it as a movie. A fun read!
Aside from being fun, it makes you think about how fragile families truly are, and the fact that there is usually one person who is the rock of every family. I have many branches of family and have witnessed this myself numerous times; the death of the family rock causes the family to fall apart. It--for lack of a better word--sucks. Nevertheless, it's definitely a reality and a clear parallel in The Family That Wasn't. I encourage you to read this one if you get the chance!