cover image The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls

Anissa Gray. Berkley, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-984-80243-9

A trio of sisters reeling from a criminal conviction form the center of Gray’s moving debut. Shortly before Thanksgiving 2013, small-town Michigan restaurateur Althea receives a multi-year sentence for food stamp fraud and charity embezzlement. While awaiting transport to prison, Althea makes friends with other inmates and refuses visits from her teenage twins, sullen and explosive Kim and shy Baby Vi. Althea’s youngest sister, Lillian, has lavishly refurbished their childhood home, where she cares for the twins and her ex-husband’s grandmother. The middle sister, Viola, returns from Chicago to help; she has been inadequately coping with a separation from her wife and backsliding into bulimia. Lillian bristles at their brother’s suggestion he take the girls in, fearing he would physically and emotionally abuse them as he did her. After Kim runs away, Viola and Lillian keep the news from Althea while scrambling to find Kim. Gray uses alternate chapters narrated by the three sisters to fill in details of their upbringing by an itinerant preacher father who was prone to abusive outbursts the rare times he was at home, and their current struggles to heal and cope. This is perfect for fans of Brit Bennett’s The Mothers; readers will be deeply affected by this story of a family wrestling to support itself. Agent: Michelle Brower, Aevitas. (Feb.)