Click here to read reviewer Luan Gaines' take on Family and Other Accidents.
Books about the importance of family usually fall into one of two categories: heartwarming or wacky. Heartwarming stories are the tales of reunions and reconciliation. The wacky stories are funny or creepy tales of dysfunction, celebrations of familial weirdness. Family and Other Accidents falls more into the former category, but it isnít so much heartwarming as melancholy, poignant and painful.
The book begins when Connor Reed is a senior in high school. His parents have both died, and Connorís only parent is his brother, Jack, a mere
ten years his senior. Jack is smart and responsible but a bit cold. Still, he takes care of his brother as best he can, providing money, safety and a place to live.
Family jumps ahead in the brothersí lives from chapter to chapter as they get older, have wives, babies and divorces. Through it all, their relationship is loving but complicated. Goldhagen is adept at showing the often prickly relationship siblings have Ė how they can love each other
yet show few outward signs of that.
Jack is there for Connor when he needs money or when heís sick. But when Connor needs emotional support, such as at the birth of his first child, Jack isnít there. Itís a compelling study of a complicated relationship. Goldhagenís characters are flawed, but so human. Their choices hurt to read about, but they seem true.
Family and Other Accidents wonít make you laugh or feel good. It will break your heart.