What happens when family dynamics are altered by a sudden death or a new arrival? The Family Reunion has the bonds that bind family together at the heart of it, opening with a tragic loss, that of Mary’s husband of thirty-eight years, the constant in her life she felt blessed to have after the loss of her mother when she needed her most: growing from a child into womanhood. With an indifferent father and desperate to feel loved, Mary soon lost her heart to the boy who declared just that, that he loved her, that he would look after her. How was it that Mary found herself so utterly alone at just turned sixteen, forced to keep the excruciating secret that would haunt her for forty-five long years thereafter? Ashamed of what she did – I don’t want to post spoilers, but there’s a poignant section here that will put things into perspective – and of losing her husband’s respect, she’d never disclosed her secret to him or to anyone, including her two grown children.
When Mary succeeds in locating her first child, the scene is set for tensions to unfold. The Family Reunion simmers with an underlying menace as the twists are revealed like the slow drip of a tap. Sibling rivalry abounds. The story seethes with resentment and jealousy, not just because of the hierarchy between the children shifting, but also because of the financial implications. This is Mary’s firstborn, after all.
It seems, though, that Mary isn’t the only one who’s been keeping secrets.
I won’t say more except that the characterisation is brilliant, the two younger siblings, married with children, are portrayed perfectly, caring for their mother, yet taking her a little too much for granted, treating her at times as if she were the child.
As someone who is passionate about family dynamics and stories that delve beneath the surface to seek out what drives people, what secrets they might keep, what challenges they might have to overcome, The Family Reunion ticks all my boxes. It’s a page turner and one I would highly recommend.