Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Ash Family

Title:  The Ash Family
Author:  Molly Dektar
Publication Information:  Simon & Schuster. 2019. 352 pages.
ISBN:  1501144863 / 978-1501144868

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Bay and I approached the farm at dawn."

Favorite Quote:  "... time is not a daisy chain but a big stack, each moment stacking on top of the next. You're always watched over by your future self. So your departed ... are always with you, and a moment of love is as good as a lifetime of love."

Berie is nineteen and on her way to college. Her mother has worked hard all her life to get Berie to this point and continues to make sacrifices to make college possible. Berie meets a random stranger at the bus stop and decides to take off with him in search of a different life. This brings her to a commune and the makeshift Ash "family."

So begins the story of this self-entitled teenager who goes in search of herself. Some of her internal dialogues express her level of maturity or lack thereof:
  • "But it was easier to love the Ash Family as an act of defiance, an act of scorn against all who had hurt me - rather than to love the Ash Family as a last resort."
  • "Oh, why couldn't I just be content with what I had? I was always looking for more. Maybe I would never be satisfied. The fake world was not enough, and neither was the real world, and I didn't know what to do; I hated myself."
  • "I reminded myself, 'Get relativity." Who was I to know whether something was good or bad? By what standards did we judge? The saddest moment might be the happiest moment. The thing and its opposite are kissing cousins. When you're sure that you're right, you're most wrong."
Not unexpectedly, she discovers that things with the Ash "family" are not quite as they seems and that this supposed, off the grid utopia may be hiding secrets more sinister than she imagines. The question is what choice will she make? Will she stay? Will she try and get out? Will she succeed?

Unfortunately, I find that I am not the reader for this book for many reasons. I find none of the characters likable. The main character is loved in her life; as such, I find her choices self-indulgent. The Ash "family" is a cult, and what they stand for unfortunately does not end up being a philosophical or ethical ground.

Perhaps, the biggest issue I have is the book's continuous reference to the "false" or "fake" world and the "real" world. The real news these days is a quagmire of claims of fake news and other such things. To me, it is a dangerous thing to see it mirrored in fiction, particularly in one that has a young adult as the main character and young adults as the potential audience.

The book may have been saved for me had there been a reckoning or a epiphany at the end. Unfortunately, that does not happen either. Rather, it seems to end just as randomly as it begins, with no apparent lesson learned. Sadly, I am really not the reader for this book.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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