Title: Family Pictures
Author: Jane Green
Release Date: March 19, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Sylvie is content with life. After all, though she never thought she’d recover after the death of her first husband, her second husband, Mark, has been absolutely amazing to her and her daughter, Eve. He’s everything she could have asked for and leaves her to pursue her dreams and passions while he provides for their little family. But Mark’s job takes him away from Sylvie and Eve for long periods of time, and when she decides to put her foot down about it, Sylvie finds shocking secrets she couldn’t have imagined.
Family Pictures is a novel about two families, one East Coast and one West, who share a devastating secret. Sylvie’s a laid back and easygoing character, and while that helps her when the foundations of her world are shaken, it makes things difficult for her as well. She doesn’t question her husband too much on his long absences, trusting him implicitly, and she doesn’t keep too close an eye on Eve, assuming that she’s up to normal teenage antics. It’s difficult for Sylvie to deal with what happens, though readers will root for her to succeed.
It’s difficult to review Family Pictures without spoiling major plot points, yet the novel is very predictable. Even from the scant summary above, readers can probably start guessing with some accuracy what is really going on. It makes it even more difficult that the big reveal doesn’t come until halfway through the novel, at which point a second major character is introduced. This plotting makes it almost impossible to discuss any of the major key story points without revealing what happens in over the first half of the book.
That being said, despite the fact that it’s predictable, Family Pictures is a very enjoyable read. Readers will find themselves hooked, hoping to read the book in one sitting. One of the most interesting characters in the novel is Eve. At the beginning, it appears that Sylvie is right: She’s dealing with normal teenage issues. But as the novel progresses and things get more difficult, it’s very clear that Eve has a negative relationship with food. As her world spirals out of control, it’s the only thing she has some sense of direct influence over. It’s a sad, desperate look at the consequences of an eating disorder and how difficult they are to treat.
A predictable novel? Yes. But one that’s fun to read anyways, especially for fans of Jane Green’s work. You’ll appreciate the layered, complex characters and the compulsively readable writing style. Green doesn’t settle for easy answers in this book; she recognizes that life is messy, and despite the fact that there are too-crazy coincidences as plot devices, she doesn’t provide easy answers for any of the characters.
Other books by Jane Green: