Entertainment & the Arts, Sunday, November 14, 1993

”Family Values” by Lawrence David

By Mark Lindquist
Special to The Seattle Times

Eighteen years of family life are, for the most part, convincingly and engagingly drawn in Lawrence David’s first novel. The multiple points of view are handled skillfully, and much of the dialogue between four brothers and one sister rings with truth and humor.

Yet David should have had more confidence in this slice of life’s ability to keep readers’ interest, because his novel flounders only when characters act in ways that seem designed to artificially heighten the drama. Like most families, this one has more than enough real drama.

In fact, it’s a mess in ways that are familiar to most of us – though David occasionally overwrites and over-explains, underestimating the universality of this territory.

The mother who admirably gives so much to this family is fueled by a resentment of her own mother, a woman whose selfishness was ahead of her time, and sadly the novel ends with this otherwise heroic mother becoming almost as selfish as the mother she rejected.

Still, the resiliency, importance and necessity of family life come through and David is to be admired for never once using the word “dysfunctional.”


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