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The Flying Troutmans

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  3,827 ratings  ·  486 reviews
Meet the Troutmans. Hattie's boyfriend has just dumped her, her sister Min's back in the psych ward, and Min's kids, Logan and Thebes, are not talking and talking way too much, respectively. Then there's the past, in which Min tried to kill Hattie once and to kill herself a lot, in which Min threw the kids' father out of the house, in which Hattie dropped out of school, in ...more
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Published September 15th 2009 by Counterpoint LLC (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

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Kevin
Who wouldn't want to go on a road trip with Miriam Toews?
This is another top notch delight in an increasingly brilliant career. The best thing about MT's writing is that it manages to be both cool and heartbreakingly sweet. The dialogue is the best thing out of Canada since the movie "Highway 61" and the characters are complex and deeply felt. I am going to marry this book. We will be registered at Macy's.
Melki
My birth triggered a seismic shift in my sister's life. The day I was born she put her dress on backwards and ran away towards a brighter future, or perhaps toward a brighter past. Our parents found her in a tree next door. Had she been planning to jump? She's been doing that ever since, travelling in two opposite directions at once, towards infancy and death.

Hattie and Min have never really been close, but now, Min is a mess - wasted and lethargic. She needs hospitalization and her kids need so
...more
Bonnie
WINNER 2008 - Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
NOMINEE 2009 - Orange Prize
FINALIST 2008 - Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction
FINALIST 2008 - McNally Robinson Book of the Year

The Flying Troutmans is a sister-love story. It’s a writer-to-reader love story. It’s the only story I can remember where I laughed out loud and my laughter abruptly turned into a sob. I couldn’t go on; I didn’t want to stop. Miriam Toews has written that kind of book.

The protagonist, Hattie is sister to psychotic Mim, and
...more
Rita
This is my favorite book. For all this time, whenever I’ve been asked that question, I’ve said, “Oh, there are so many that I love, it’s impossible to pin down just one and call it my favorite.”

Now, it’s possible.

The characters, the storyline, the writing, the dialog all comes together so that every word is necessary and there aren’t any to spare. It is just perfect.

Hattie is on a road trip with her 15 year-old nephew, Logan and 11 year-old niece, Thebes. The kids’ mother, Min, is mentally ill a
...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
This thing got me from the very first paragraph – it threw me in the back of its van in Winnipeg, and sped off down a dusty, prairie road with me, across borders temporal, geographical and emotional, and it didn’t let me go until it had wrung me out, surprised me, made me laugh, made me cry, made me FEEL oh so much, and then left me on the tarmac in San Diego heading back home, with a grain of hope that yeah, the kids (will be) alright.

First up: the voice. A kind of early Tom Robbins whimsy desc
...more
jo
i have this gr friend i won’t say their name and they read this book and told me jo you should read it it’s sort of like Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones which if you don’t remember is the 2011 national book award winner and describes a poor rural black family before and during hurricane katrina

as you can imagine i was intrigued on account of what can this little canadian romp of a book possibly have in common with salvage the bones which is dead serious and sultry and racked with tragedy and so
...more
Barry
This book, with a mentally ill person as the catalyst, exhibits schizoid traits of its own. My initial reaction: unconvincing and lazy. I didn’t think I’d say this about Toews, winner of the 2004 Governor General’s award for A Complicated Kindness. The Flying Troutmans is my first Toews novel.

Mild quibbles kept piling up. Flurries of minor quibbles turned into dumps of significant quibbles, completely snowing under the charm of the book.

Toews uses the venerable road trip as a platform for the no
...more
Natalie
Stole my heart, and boy how I would steal little Thebes and keep her forever.

Miriam Toew, if I were a writer, I would want to be you.

Absolutely astonishing ability to write pathos, black comedy, brave beauty and the most searing of agonies.

Favorites!
Simon
A beautiful book, both heart-rending and heart-warming at the same time. The three central characters, Hattie (aunt), Thebes, 11 (niece) and Logan, 15 (nephew) are all fantastic but Thebes is the star of the show, with a motor mouth that can't stop producing the weirdest, quirkiest, sweetest things. In what I find just about one of the absurdest, funniest things I've ever read, Thebes dreams there is, previously unbeknownst to her, a thirteenth month, "squeezed somewhere in between February and ...more
Kelly
I've found a new favorite writer, methinks. This is one of a string of books that all but destroyed my own will to write. But in a good way.

This book is hilarious but also hits you where it counts. Here's a little taste, after the narrator Hattie has been picked up from the airport by her (underage) nephew Logan and niece Thebes:

"Logan ended up driving back to their house because I didn't know how to tell him not to and because he hadn't seemed interested in relinquishing control of the wheel an
...more
Relyn
Dec 10, 2008 Relyn rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sounds weird, but people who enjoy reading about mental illness and its effects
I discovered this book at my favorite bookstore, The Reading Reptile in Kansas City. It's a children's bookstore. So, I really pay attention to the adult books they choose. This was beautifully, sensitively written. In all, the story has been told before. It was about the effect of mental illness on a family, specifically a mother's illness on her children and the sibling left to pick up the pieces. Not sorry I read it. Won't reread it.
Shane
I know that Miriam Toews is a much beloved writer in Canada and one should be kind with one's comments, but I found this road story a bit claustrophobic at times despite the waves of humour that the writer conjures for us. Three people in an ailing van - 28 year-old Aunt Hattie and her 15-year old nephew Logan, the basketball junkie driving without a licence, and his unwashed super-intelligent 11 year-old sister Thebes - all running away from an impossibly suicidal Mum in Manitoba, and searching ...more
Corey
If, along the way, something is gained, then something will also be lost. Those words were emblazoned on Min's bedroom wall, burned into the wallpaer with a charred wine-bottle cork. Our parents dismissed them as psuedo-profound, angsty-adolescent babble, but they haunted me. Why should that be? I wondered. How did she know that? Did she really believe it, or did she just like the way those words looked in burnt cork?
- from The Flying Troutmans

Let's make an analogy between books and buildings. S
...more
Sterlingcindysu
It's a sign that Toew's a good writer to describe characters that made me cringe throughout the book! I could never forget that Thebes didn't change clothes, wash, wash her hair or even brush her teeth throughout the book...couple that with the engine problems with the Ford Areostar and I really couldn't relax reading this. Hattie wasn't sure where her parenting boundaries were, but hey, if a kid hasn't brushed her teeth or washed in a week, you are allowed to supervise more closely! And you don ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Miriam Toews
Willie Krischke
"The Flying Troutmans" is gritless but not altogether witless. Borrowing an awful lot from "Little Miss Sunshine," it's a novel about a misfit family on a road trip that heals all their wounds. Hattie, has to come home from Paris to rescue her nephew and niece, 10 year old Thebes (who will soon grow up to be an eccentric sprite, the kind who saves some depressed boy's life by having sex with him, only then to reveal her own scarred past) and 15 year old Logan (who pretty much IS the kid in "Litt ...more
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
Nov 29, 2009 Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day) rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Athira by: Wendy Catalano
Not the kind of book I would expect to be a 5-star read. But then, there's not any flaw in it, and its beauty lies in its simplicity.

Here's a group of freaks from page one to last page, come together to create a riotous comedy! I could so easily relate to every character in this book, because they seemed so dysfunctional that they seemed as normal as any of us. None of the characters are glossed over or passed around as "heroes" or as having mainly normal characteristics.

There's Thebie, who jus
...more
Mike Smith
This very funny book had me smiling most of the time and laughing out loud often, even on the bus! There's almost no plot to speak off. 30-something Aunt Hattie (the narrator of the story) takes her 15-year-old nephew and 11-year-old niece on a road trip in a semi-road-worthy van to find the children's long-gone father when their mother is committed to hospital for severe mental illness. Most of the story is Hattie's wonderfully droll descriptions of her attempts to connect with the children and ...more
Alia Yunis
Nearly everyone has that person in his or her family who is teetering on the edge of crazy. But when they fall off the edge, who will take care of them and, in the case of this novel, their children? In the Flying Troutmans, the responsibility falls on to Hattie, 28 and left classically heartbroken by her Parisian boyfriend. She comes back to Canada partially to heal herself and partially to deal with her sister, badly in need of going away for a while, and her two children, Logan, 15, and Thebe ...more
Dianne
Interesting. I think that's the word I'd use to describe this book. I didn't love it, but the story is quite original and there's a lot to be said for that. The characters are fresh and funky and vulnerable and they left me curious to take a look at her other novels.

It is about a woman, Hattie, who comes home from Paris after her boyfriend dumps her. She has come to take care of her sister, niece and nephew when the sister, Min, is hospitalized for the depression that has plagued her throughout
...more
Kristen Northrup
I read this reluctantly. I received it via an indie-book-of-the-month club rather than deliberately. The only thing I tend to dislike more than stories about dysfunctional families is stories about eccentric ones. And I especially dislike eccentric children. Also, I didn't enjoy Little Miss Sunshine, although I never doubted that was coincidence.

All that said, I did not dislike this book. It was well-written. Still not my taste, and I disliked Thebes all the way to the end, but the narrator and
...more
Kate
This is a road trip book, in which you're trapped in a beat up Ford Aerostar with the Troutman family as they careen across the United States, searching for a long lost father, and a plan.

I loved riding in the car with these characters. They are funny, and fun. The teenage Troutman, his little sister, and their emotionally unprepared aunt are bearing up well under sad circumstances, namely the cyclical, debilitating depression of the kids' mother, who is recently hospitalized and unable to reme
...more
Ilyhana Kennedy
Some stories sound familiar because we know people like this, and so it is with this story for me. I know the journey that these characters make and the challenge that it takes just to live each day. So I really appreciated the character development in this novel, chaotic by nature as they certainly are. In fact it's all about chaos and living within an unpredictable emotional environment.
This is the second novel I've read by Miriam Toews. Irma Voth was the first. As a writer she has a way of pr
...more
Donna Jo Atwood
I'm not usually too enthusiastic about reading stories of dysfunctional family, either fact or fiction, but I was glad I read this one. I don't think I gained any great insights but I did enjoy the interplay between 15-year old Logan, his 11-year old sister Thebes, and their aunt Hattie who are on a major road trip to find the kids' father while their mother Min is in a psychiatric ward.

There are frequent short flashbacks. There are moments of panic. There are a number of bad choices of action b
...more
Laura C.
This book made me mad. I think it is because it wasted its promise. No redemption offered, except a return to the same idiotic behavior that ruined the lives of the main characters in the first place. People this undeniably brilliant should be able to connect on some sort of human level. And no concerned adult lets an 11 year old wear the same grunge encrusted terry cloth outfit the entire trip across the US. Or leaves a 15 year old boy in the middle of the desert with a man living in a tent wit ...more
Charles
I don't know why I even bothered to finish this book. It is skillfully executed. But if you've already seen the movie Little Miss Sunshine why read the folksy boring Canadian version of the film? So, I kept reading in the hopes that it would get better but it didn't. I'll stick to Ami McKay or other can novelists, even Heather O'Neill's Lullabies For Little Criminals was better. Except I can see O'Neill using the "waif in danger" theme too much. Let's see what her next book is about. See, this i ...more
Erin
I got halfway through this book and realized that I just didn't care much about the characters. That sounds pretty heartless, as they are all in the midst of a family crisis, but I couldn't attach to the disjointed and cold style of writing. The dysfunction of the characters was hard to believe, much less follow. I wondered if I needed to plow through to get to why this book is so well liked so on I went. In the end, I had a little of that warm, fuzzy feeling, but still didn't connect well with ...more
Jesmina
I absolutely loved this book with its family angst and atypical form of dysfunction; in fact, I thought these were my relatives!

Right off the bat I was cheering for the 'retard' sister who can't keep her thoughts/moods/excitement/distaste for all things 'normal' to herself. A new heroine has arrived in Thebes, the eleven-year-old with s wise-cracking, acerbic wit,usually seen in much older, even experienced beings.

Miriam Toews is one talented (Canadian) writer who I'll be following in the years
...more
Thais
Lo inizi pensando di avere tra le mani un romanzetto leggero e divertente, finisci per trovarlo così intensamente emozionale e fartene coinvolgere talmente tanto che non vorresti più staccartene.
È difficile, alla fine, rassegnarsi a lasciare l'incasinatissima zia Hattie, Logan l'adolescente dal sorriso meraviglioso e soprattutto Thebes, una ragazzina bizzarra e maledettamente affascinante, come non mi capitava di trovarne da un bel po'.
La madre di Logan e Thebes è pazza, lo è sempre stata, e qua
...more
Jilanna
I loved this book. I love the people in it and the way MT tells the story. Not sure if I like this or AMPS better. TFT might be my favourite. I feel like I'll miss these characters more.
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Miriam Toews is a Canadian writer of Mennonite descent. She grew up in Steinbach, Manitoba and has lived in Montreal and London, before settling in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Toews studied at the University of Manitoba and the University of King's College in Halifax, and has also worked as a freelance newspaper and radio journalist. Her non-fiction book "Swing Low: A Life" was a memoir of her father, a vi
...more
More about Miriam Toews...
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“Conversing with children is a fine art.... An art form that demands large amounts of both honesty and misdirection. Or maybe discretion is a better word.” 10 likes
“If, along the way, something is gained, then something will also be lost.” 7 likes
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