Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged dysfunctional family

Blood From A Stone (1/22/2011)

Tommy Nohilly’s first play, Blood From A Stone, treads the familiar terrain of family dysfunction, zeroing in on the return of oldest son Travis [played with anguished complexity by Ethan Hawke] to the family’s ramshackle Connecticut home. What exactly ails this prodigal child is a mystery. We know that he is jobless, broke, single, and addicted to pain killers, but the demons that hover near him are never fully revealed. At first, the reasons he’s returned home are also unclear. Is he looking for solace? Hoping for a financial handout?


Brittany: I’m one of those lit geeks who has long loved Jonathan Franzen. I read How To Be Alone on a solo trip to Japan when I was twenty, and it particularly spoke to me as an introverted writer. The better part of a decade later, I’m still so infatuated with that particular collection—though I’ve also read Franzen’s three previous novels, memoir, numerous pieces in The New Yorker, and his longtime partner Kathryn Chetkovich’s Granta essay “Envy” before it was so publicly associated with Franzen—that it was no stretch to know I’d like Freedom. I’ve also read a lot about Franzen’s process as a writer, and frankly, it seems few people have the commitment to churn out the type of work he produces. That doesn’t mean I think it’s above critique; it’s just that I admire his work ethic and generally, the end result.


Warren Spooner is an underachiever in a remarkable family. As a child, he sneaks around town peeing in people’s shoes and watching things burn in the city incinerator. As an adult, he first becomes a major league baseball player and then a writer, seemingly destined for early demise as he eagerly enters into questionable situations with his boxer pal Stanley Faint. After a string of surgeries, he has enough metal in his body to warrant concern about the weight of his coffin when he eventually dies. There has never been a lovable black sheep quite like Spooner.

Elegies for the Brokenhearted

Elegies for the Brokenhearted is a book about nobodies. The narrator, Mary Murphy, is a silent observer to the destructive forces around her that ultimately shape the outcome of her life. As invisible as her ubiquitous name, Mary is a shy—and at times optionally mute—child and young adult who finds very little to care for. We first meet Mary as a young girl trying desperately to gain the (positive) attention of her mother and uncle.

The Truth About Delilah Blue

After first reading The Truth About Delilah Blue's jacket blurb, it struck me as a beach book. It turned out I was only slightly incorrect; it's an airplane book, most satisfying when you really have nothing else to do and nowhere else to go. Delilah, also known as Lila, is working as a nude model in an attempt to absorb the art education she cannot afford.

Little Venus

Little Venus, a collection of poems by Carla Drysdale, is at once hauntingly beautiful and disturbing. The poems are an autobiographical account of child abuse, sexual abuse, and a dysfunctional family, yet Drysdale manages to strike the difficult balance between beauty and horror.

Tell Me Something True

Tell Me Something True is about a young woman, Gabriella, who spends a summer visiting family in Colombia and what she learns about her mother, Helena, upon discovering her diary. Helena died when Gabriella was only a baby, so the image Gabriella has of her mother is broken when she is confronted by the secrets her mother kept.

My Sister, My Love: The Intimate Story of Skyler Rampike

My Sister, My Love is Joyce Carol Oates’ thirty-fifth novel in forty-five years.

Decision and Destiny

Decision and Destiny is the second novel in a three part series about the Duvoisin family of Charmantes Island.

Must Read After My Death

Familial dysfunction is rarely poetic, but archival footage can be visually stunning, especially paired with painfully honest audio recordings of diaries, intimate correspondence, and therapy sessions. After his grandmother Allis’ death in 2001, filmmaker Morgan Dews stumbled upon more than 200 home movies and fifty hours of tape-recorded diaries and Dictaphone correspondence which revealed a complicated story previously unknown to Dews.