cover image The Floating Feldmans

The Floating Feldmans

Elyssa Friedland. Berkley, $16 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-399-58689-7

Friedland’s delightful latest (after The Intermission) chronicles the events that transpire on a cruise that a fraught family takes to celebrate their matriarch’s 70th birthday. It’s easy for middle-aged siblings Elise Connelly and Freddy Feldman to fall into their old childhood roles of golden child and loser whenever they’re around their parents, even though Elise has since disappointed their doctor dad David by ditching medical school for motherhood, and formerly unfocused Freddy is now, unbeknownst to his family, a multimillionaire after finding his niche in the legal marijuana business. Freddy can see this same sad dynamic playing out with his honor student niece Rachel and her unmotivated younger brother, Darius. Elise’s secret shopping addiction has depleted Darius’s college fund just as he gets ready to leave the nest. Elise is also unaware that her husband, Mitch, has plans to quit his job as managing editor at the Sacramento Bee to start a literary magazine. And Annette, whose birthday they are to celebrate, is the only one who knows that David has cancer. Friedland’s plot owes a lot to miscommunication and secrets being conveniently revealed at key moments. This doesn’t make for the most natural narrative flow, but her skill at depicting familial tensions is top-notch. Fans of multitudinous conflicts in an ensemble cast will enjoy the ride. (July)