The Turner House and Little Libraries

Detroit Little libraries, Grandmont Rosedale, The Turner House

A few months back I went to a  Pages’ book reading event for The Turner House. It’s Angela Flournoy’s debut novel and takes place in Detroit. It’s a family story that shares the history of the Turner Family – a large family of thirteen children who came to age at different times in the 20th century and have different relationships with their parents (their father is deceased and their mother is ill). Although all of the children play a part in the story, three of the siblings – Cha-cha, Troy and Lelah – are the central focus and you discover the challenges they’ve faced in the past, the present and how it is drawing all of them back to their family home on Yarrow Street.

The house was Flournoy’s original topic – well the house’s situation was. She set out to write about the housing crisis, in particular, underwater houses in struggling neighborhoods that used to be an area of pride for its residents.  In the novel, the family matriarch (the Turner kids’ mother) has moved out of the family home due to illness and the kids have to come together to decide what to do with the property that is not worth a 10th of what is owed. The family is split on their preferred course of action and their positions are explored in addition to the family’s past and a few siblings presents.

It was a enjoyable book to read. As I read it I could easily imagine it being a movie; however, it ended abruptly and I was admittedly unsatisfied. If I knew it was a part one of a series  I could see it but I don’t believe that is the case. Consequently, I’ve struggled with what to say about the book and whether or not to mention it on the blog. I decided that this is only my opinion. The New York Times, O Magazine, The Washington Post and others all said great things. Since I’m fairly new to the modern fiction field, perhaps it was just me.

I also decided the best course of action was to pass the book forward and leave it available to others who might take away something different. I thought it was fitting to bring it back to the neighborhood I bought the book in and delivered it to the Little Free Library at the Grandmont Rosedale Park.

These cute wooden boxes can be found across Detroit and around the world. Kim Kozlowski started the movement in the city and it’s been getting a lot of attention lately. We heard her make a pitch at SOUP earlier this year and I thought it would be  a great place to leave it.

It’s also good timing because the Little Free Library is having an event at the 4731 Gallery tomorrow. Local artists have painted boxes that will be on display and the international founder of the Little Free Library movement, Todd Bol will be present. The reception begins at 5:30 p.m. and you can check out their Facebook page for more information.


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