This was a deceptive novel. I put off reading it for a long time because, although it was well reviewed, I thought it would just be an exercise in quirkitude. When I finally sat down to read it, I discovered that, underneath its eccentricities, this novel asked serious questions. What is art? What happens to children when parents truly do not look after them? How are they able to grow up and take care of themselves?
In The Family Fang, the parents are performance artists. This, they insist, to their children, Annie and Buster, is a family project. The parents, Caleb and Camille, assigned roles and engineered experiences at public places, often malls. Whereas everyone else would experience chaos and confusion, Caleb and Camille would find it beautiful, art in the highest degree. The book is about their children's struggle to make sense of their parents' lives and to eventually create their own destiny. I found it beautiful and disturbing. It was not a lightweight read. This book will surprise you.