Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Literally the Best Reviews: The Floating Feldmans

The Floating Feldmans - Elyssa Friedland
Berkley Publishing
368 Pages

When I go to the library to pick up books, I generally don’t pick up books that are considered “chick lit.” That’s not to say that they’re not good books. A lot of them are. I usually try to steer away from them because I’m not big into reading romance, vampires or no vampires. However, I grabbed this book off the shelf and actually laughed when I read the summary of The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland. This book ended up coming home with me.

Within the first thirty pages of starting this book, I laughed out loud a good half dozen times. Immediately I thought of my good friend, Howie. He is a Jewish man who would get much more out of the jokes that were being made in the book. I texted him a couple of times while reading to showcase some of the jokes that I got. Like I said, he would get a lot more of the jokes in the book. 

Annette Feldman is turning 70 and she wants her family to get together to celebrate the occasion. The family has not been all together under the same roof for over a decade. Despite their differences, she is adamant that they will follow her birthday wishes, even if it kills them. She decides the family will go on a cruise together, her children, grandchildren, and spouses. Unfortunately, none of them wants to follow the rules that she has set forth.

The entire family has secrets that will make unfortunate appearances while they are all trapped on the boat. Annette’s daughter, Elise, has a secret obsession that could destroy the very fabric of her family life. Elise’s husband has one of his own that he feels super good about. Their children are typical teens who want as little to do with each other and the rest of the family as possible. Elise’s son is obsessed with girls and wants to show off a little towards the focus of his unrequited love.

Meanwhile, Annette’s son, Freddy, is the black sheep of the family. He did not even attempt to enter the family business and was thrown out of college. Little do they know, he’s probably the most successful of the group. Without this knowledge, they look down upon him when he shows up with a girlfriend who is two decades younger than he is. When the truth breaks loose, all at the same time, hilarity ensues. Who hasn’t gone to a family reunion that hasn’t featured an argument and fisticuffs?

Elyssa Friedman has captured the essence of that forced family vacation. While the brochures look idealistic and idyllic, reality is anything but. Cabins are small and patience is thin. Nerves are frayed as each member of the family attempts to control the carefully crafted stories to hide their secrets. Of course, nothing works like it's supposed to. Haven’t we all attempted to make ourselves look better to others, especially our family members?

Most of the characters are richly written, even if most of them are not particularly likable. Darius, who is Elise’s son, is the most relatable of the characters to me. I remember being a teenage boy trying to impress certain members of the opposite sex. The futility of his attempts ring so true. David, the patriarch of the family, is a lot like the dads we know. They’re mostly hands off until needed, leaving the heavy lifting to the mothers. It’s unfair, but true, and brilliantly captured in this novel.

I loved reading this book. It was fun to relate to the family dynamics and try to figure out how each of them were going to finally break the news they had been hiding for so long. In the end, it ends on a fairly positive note. This ends up being a happy story that has many zany twists and turns. It explores the human spirit and the inner workings of families that are mostly hidden away from outsiders.

The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedman is a great summer book to read while you’re sitting next to the pool, physically distancing yourself from those annoying beings called your kids. And it’s not just for women. If you like to read, read this book. Enjoy the summer day while you engross yourself in the story of the Floating Feldmans.

Craig Bacon loves family reunions. He’s never fought at one, but he’s definitely left early. Just because.