The Turner House

The Turner House

Large Print - 2016
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Learning after a half-century of family life that their house on Detroit's East Side is worth only a fraction of its mortgage, the members of the Turner family gather to reckon with their pasts and decide the house's fate.
Publisher: Waterville, Maine : Thorndike Press, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016.
Edition: Large print edition.
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9781410487827
Branch Call Number: LPF FLOURNOY, ANGELA
Characteristics: 549 pages (large print) : genealogical table ; 23 cm
large print,rda


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Nov 21, 2017

Fluornoy’s debut novel is a complex family tale that follows how the thirteen Turner siblings must grapple with what to do with the house on Yarrow Street where they grew up after their mother is too old to live alone any longer. Thematically, the book deals broadly with place, both the importance of the Turner family home, and the history that resides there, and also the city of Detroit. Fluornoy also addresses the legacy of addiction within and between generations of a family, and how families understand mental health and addiction more generally. The plot is slow moving, but the highlight is the complex family dynamic amongst the many siblings.

Originally posted at Required Reading:

Aug 28, 2017

Set in Detroit in 2008 as the Great Recession and housing crises looms and in the 1940s when the first Turner moves there from Arkansas as part of the Great Migration, we follow the hopes and dreams of the large Turner family and the house that grounds them to this city.

Wonderful evocation of a city in transition and the toll it takes on those who have invested years in an East Side neighborhood. Cha Cha, the eldest, and his ghost memories got a bit long winded, but the author was able to resolve it in the end. Wonderful character studies in this family of 13 children.

DBRL_KrisA Jun 11, 2017

Having read Jeffrey Eugenides' "Middlesex" within the last year, my immediate impulse was to start comparing the two books. While there are similarities - they both deal with multiple generations of families; they both take place in Detroit and deal with the gradual deterioration of the city - there are definite differences. The most obvious surface difference is that the family in "Middlesex" is Greek, while the family in "The Turner House" is African American. Flournoy's book deals mostly with one generation of the Turner family - the children of Francis and Viola Turner. And, of course, the story of Cal in Eugenides' book is unlike just about any other story out there.
While there are thirteen children in the Turner family, the author focuses most of her attention on the oldest, Cha-Cha, and the youngest, Lelah. Most of the other brothers and sisters make appearances in the book, some more than others, but if the story is about the Turner family, I feel there should have been more attention paid to all the members of that family.
On the surface, the "Turner house" in the title refers to the house on Yarrow Street where all the kids grew up. But toward the end of the book, Flournoy makes a comment about what a "Turner house party" entails, and it made me realize that her definition of "Turner house" also encompasses any place where the Turner family are gathered. While the book doesn't completely resolve the issue of what to do with the Yarrow Street house, it's made clear that, wherever and whenever members of the Turner family gather (most likely in Cha-Cha's house), that place is also the "Turner House".

May 02, 2017

This book touches on a lot of interesting topics--large families (and all the drama that can ensue), the effects of white flight, and addiction are among the biggest topics touched on. It also is populated with interesting people--most notably the parents and oldest and youngest siblings of the Turner family.

I wanted to like the book more than I did. I found it fairly inconsistent in the strength of its delivery. It's one of those books where much of the journey is internal, so there isn't much in terms of action. Some chapters gripped me, and others had me looking ahead to see when the next chapter would be starting up.

I think Flournoy did a good job of capturing life within a big family and touching on the themes of the changes in our country during this last century that affected her characters' lives; the story just needed a little something more to draw me in as deeply as I normally like to go into a book.

Mar 28, 2017

"Middlesex" is still my favorite novel about Detroit, but this is now a close second. It features historic interest (particularly of the Great Migration) as well as relatable modern characters.

DBRL_KatSU Jan 25, 2017

"The Turner House" is a wonderful family story set against the backdrop of the housing crisis in Detroit.

Cha-Cha, the eldest of 13 children, wrestles with a haint (a ghost) in the beginning of the story, and is told by his father, with utter seriousness, "There ain't no haints in Detroit." The story becomes legend in the family. Years later, the haint starts haunting him again.

Lelah, the youngest, has a gambling problem and gets evicted from her apartment. She tries to help her own daughter and grandson, but might do better if she focuses on herself.

Troy, another one of the younger siblings, thinks he can step up and solve a family dispute, though his solution is fairly sneaky, and probably not completely legal.

The other main focus of the novel is the house on Yarrow Street which has been in the Turner family for over 50 years. Now that Viola, the matriarch of the family, is unable to live there by herself, the 13 children and their families must decides what to do with the Turner House.

EKGO Oct 11, 2016

There is nothing remarkable about the Detroit family portrayed in this novel, except maybe its notable size (13 children, now all grown)
The old Turner House is the focal point of the story. Viola, the aging matriarch, has had to move in with her son, Cha Cha, and his wife, leaving the family home empty.
Eldest child Cha Cha discusses what to do with the house, and on some level, what to do with their declining mother, while, at the same time, youngest child Lelah is down on her luck, squatting in her mom's house, trying to get back on her feet.

Family history builds through Viola's early years with her husband, Francis, as well as the siblings' memories of childhood, culminating in Cha Cha's quest to face the haint who has been haunting him for decades, Lelah's mission to accept and define herself instead of defining herself through others, and the rest of the family to figure out what to do with the Turner House.

Readers who come from large families will most likely enjoy this story of a regular city family, following it from its beginning to its transition to the next generation.

Oct 08, 2016

A fascinating novel about the importance of family and "home" in people's lives, with a nice touch of magical realism.

ChristchurchLib May 15, 2016

The Turner family has owned their home on Detroit's East Side for more than 50 years, but their traditionally black, working-class neighbourhood has deteriorated and they now owe more on their mortgage than the building is worth. Focusing on three of the 13 Turner siblings, this engaging family saga traces both family and social history, incorporating flashbacks of their now-deceased father's early years in Detroit after the Great Migration. If you enjoyed the sweep of history found in Ayana Mathis' The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, you'll likely enjoy this engrossing, character-driven debut as well.

Feb 26, 2016

Here's a fun read about a big Detroit family with as many stories as individuals.

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Nov 21, 2017

Fluornoy’s debut novel is a complex family tale that follows how the thirteen Turner siblings must grapple with what to do with the house on Yarrow Street where they grew up after their mother is too old to live alone any longer. Fluornoy focuses on the oldest sibling, Charles, aka Cha-Cha, and the youngest, Lela, separated by more than twenty-three years in age, and eleven siblings. Cha-Cha is in therapy after having claimed to have seen a ghost, and Lela is struggling mightily to hide a gambling addiction. Flashbacks illuminate the history of their parents, Francis and Viola Turner, who came North to Detroit for the promise of a better life than the one the South offered its black citizens.


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