Book Review: Family Tree

Title: Family Tree

Author: Susan Wiggs

Heard about it: on Goodreads

Setting: Los Angeles and Vermont

SPOILERS!

Annie Harlow grew up on a sugar maple farm in Vermont, but she’s enjoying her new life in LA, married to a charming husband, working at her dream career, and at last, expecting her first baby. Then the world comes crashing down on her — quite literally. A piece of equipment falls on her head, causing TBI, traumatic brain injury. Annie wakes up in a hospital to find that everything has changed while she was asleep, including her. She’s back home in Vermont and now she has to rebuild her whole life.

I’m torn whether this one counts for the Read Diverse Books challenge. Annie might be a minority, but I’m not quite sure on that part. The author never makes it clear, just says that she’s “too ethnic” to be on camera (according to a network, not the author). But the TBI does cause some major soul searching on Annie’s part as she has to relearn how to talk, walk, and survive on her own.

My problem is that the brain injury is treated so lightly. Yes, she is in a coma for an entire year. But so what? Does her family have a financial crisis because of this? Do they have to take out a second mortgage? Are creditors hounding them for payment? No. Is her family feeling the terrible strain of having to oversee her care while living their regular lives? Are they fighting over what should happen next? Are they exhausted from being at the hospital night and day? No.

And how about Annie? Does she suffer any lingering mental or physical handicap from her – let me emphasize here – TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY? No, not really. She’s even DRIVING a couple of weeks after going home. Seriously? Is she disfigured, scarred? Her muscles are atrophied, which I would expect, but the more serious problem is – wait for it – HER MANICURE IS RUINED!

OK, I know that TBI is a real thing. But this is not anything like realistic. It’s the absolute opposite, in fact. And given that, it really didn’t matter to me that the descriptions of Vermont read like a travel brochure, or that all the cooking in here made me crave maple syrup. I just couldn’t get past the ridiculous plot. I kept skipping all the flashbacks to see what happened right now, but Annie never had to deal with anything like what the real consequences would be.

I am NOT recommending this one. It has good reviews, but I just can’t bother with a book or an author who doesn’t do more research.

Currently reading The Wright Brothers by David McCullough, and I’ll tell you what, you cannot accuse the man of skimping on research.

 

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