Kelly, Elizabeth. Apologize, Apologize! Knopf, 2009. ISBN 978-0307396952 pp. $
Often, rich people can get away with eccentricity, but everyone in this wealthy New England family is portrayed as stark raving mad lunatics, as seen through the eyes of conservative Collie Flanagan, the only one in his house who seems driven to work for a living. His mother, a self-proclaimed revolutionary (who vocally and frequently favors his younger brother Bingo), throws her father’s fortune after lost causes while his drunken Irish dad brings home flowers each time he strays. A live-in uncle attempts to establish some order in the nuthouse, but his sick sense of humor overshadows his care-giving. With so much hilarity and frolicking in childhood years, doom seems imminent.
The novel begins at a frenetic pace and is filled with (sometimes forced) one line punches, and doesn’t find it’s legs until a good third of the way in, but by that point, I was so intrigued about where it was going and what would happen to the boys, I couldn’t put it down. Characters are vividly drawn wild caricatures, and the narrator doesn’t come across as wholly trustworthy, which, actually makes for some of the fun. I really liked it, but it’s a bit hard to break into, and I’m not convinced the writing is a WOW–it was too uneven in structure, pace and characterization.