The Butler family has had their share of trials — as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest — but nothing prepared them for the literal trial that will upend their lives.
Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will. They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when she and her husband Proctor are arrested, and in a heartbeat the family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace. The worst part is, not even her sisters are sure exactly what happened.
As Althea awaits her fate, Lillian and Viola must come together in the house they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters. What unfolds is a stunning portrait of the heart and core of an American family in a story that is as page-turning as it is important.
Author: Anissa Gray | Publisher: Berkley
“Our scripture was about Jacob wresting with the angel, right? So I’m thinking, but ain’t we all wrestling with something? And for some of us, it sure as shit ain’t angels. Am I right?”
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls was a beautiful novel about women, family, and the burdens we all carry. The characters were vivid, their experiences were important, and the story was transfixing.
The story centers on three sisters: Althea, the eldest and a prison inmate; Viola, her best friend growing up who now lives in Chicago with her wife; and Lilian, the youngest who grew up without them and now cares for Althea’s twin teenage daughters. Each of them has some serious ghosts of years past haunting them, much of that stemming from their mother’s death, their father’s distance, and their brother’s character.
We start with Althea’s sentencing, see the characters come together in its aftermath, and then follow along as one of the teenagers carries them on a trying and heart-wrenching adventure (to put it simply, without spoilers).
Throughout, the story emphasizes how all the characters’ stories are both intertwined and separate, with each of them having lived with significant struggles that the others never understood — or even knew about.
I thought it was interesting that the first chapter is told from Althea’s perspective, which makes us start out thinking that she’s a “good guy,” the protagonist. But then, while she’s certainly not a “bad guy,” her flaws become absolutely undeniable and there is not much allegiance to her in the end.
I’m not always drawn to family dramas, but I really liked this one. In fact, I found myself settling into the story so comfortably that at one point, I forgot that I had even finished the book — part of me was still with the characters and the way they fit together.