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download (2)Reviewed by Alisha Churbe

In 1881, Martha and Jeremy Whittaker’s stepsons come together for a family reunion. It’s been just over two years since Abraham, a doctor from Mississippi, Ezekiel, a professor in England, and Isaac, a free spirit who settled for family life were last together. The family is haunted by a shared past of secrets that are revealed in pieces throughout the story. Some of the secrets are never fully described, adding to the never-fully-developed mystery of the family.

The family reunion is a long one, spanning months, or so it seems. A large cast of characters participate in many occurrences: a miscarriage, a wedding, a stranger, a number of attacks, a gala and other events. It is difficult to know exactly who the main character(s) are, the story fluctuates through the viewpoints of most, if not all, the stepsons, parents, friends, and children of the Whittaker family. The story ends with a new secret revealed and without resolution to the other secrets weaved throughout the story. The ending “disappears into a cloud of dust” following a stranger away from the Whittaker family.

It was difficult to understand the true purpose of the story in The Whittaker Family Reunion or have concern for the fates of any of the many characters. There is potential for a good read, but the plot fell flat and short. Roe weaves a mystery with intricate and not always relevant details. Her writing style is best described just as one of her young characters in this novel, “the girl had guts and independence. All she needed was a little polish.”

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Part-time fiction writer, Alisha Churbe lives in Portland, Oregon. In the rare instances when you can pry her away from books, Alisha can be found travelling in foreign countries, cooking, or hiking with her husband Michael and dog Euro.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Shirley Roe. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.