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The Flying Troutmans

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  5,511 Ratings  ·  603 Reviews
Some families appear destined for catastrophe: meet the Troutmans. Hattie’s boyfriend has just dumped her, her sister Min is 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 h
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Hardcover, 276 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Counterpoint (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Kevin
Jun 25, 2008 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rita
Dec 04, 2008 Rita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loved
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
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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
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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
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Bonnie
Oct 23, 2008 Bonnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Barry
Mar 04, 2009 Barry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, canadian
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
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jo
Dec 29, 2008 jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to jo by: Jennifer (aka EM)
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
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Natalie
Jul 31, 2014 Natalie rated it it was amazing
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!
Kelly
Oct 31, 2009 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
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Simon
Feb 25, 2012 Simon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
The characters in this book aren't perfect but I feel like I know them. Thebes was one of those characters that will stay with you for a long time. Great story with sad mixed with funny in a way that most authors can't pull off.
Relyn
Dec 10, 2008 Relyn rated it liked it  ·  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.
Jilanna
Sep 07, 2014 Jilanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
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.
Ron Charles
Dec 21, 2013 Ron Charles rated it really liked it
Miriam Toews saunters along the line between comedy and grief as if she might lose her balance at any moment. But she never does. The precarious tone of her novels about fractured families is the crafted effect of a nimble writer. Raised by Mennonites in a small Canadian town, Toews has developed an irresistible sense of absurdity leavened with real affection for the quirky characters who inhabit her stories.

The Flying Troutmans, her fourth novel, invites immediate comparison with the popular in
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Corey
Jul 21, 2008 Corey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Shane
Mar 08, 2010 Shane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Come Musica
In realtà, sono 3,5 stelle, ma ho messo 3 perché non mi ha pienamente convinta dal punto di vista stilistico.

È la storia di due famiglie che hanno tanti pezzi dispersi. Min e Hattie sono due sorelle. Min ha disturbi mentali, si è sposata e separata e ha due figli, Logan e Thebes, che non vedono il padre da 11 anni. A Hattie è chiesto di mettere insieme i pezzi di questa seconda famiglia, nel tentativo di farlo inconsciamente per quelli che riguardano la sua famiglia di origine.

Una storia commov
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Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
Sep 04, 2009 Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day) rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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Allison
Dec 06, 2014 Allison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! The story is narrated by Hattie Troutman, Min's younger sister who flew back to Canada from Paris after getting a phone call in the middle of the night from Min's 11-year-old daughter, Thebes. Min had to be put in a psych ward, and apparently has been mentally ill since childhood. And Hattie, who is 28 years old and single, decided to take the the two kids, Thebes and 15-year-old Logan, on a road trip to the U.S. to try to find their father. During the trip, Hattie's narration ...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
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
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Irene
Feb 07, 2009 Irene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book I've read by Miriam Toews, the first being A Complicated Kindness. She is a joy to read. Unlike anyone else that I've found. Funny, sad, idiosyncratic, touching, original.
Heather Tucker
Mar 28, 2016 Heather Tucker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My Favourite book by Miriam Toews. Wonderful humour and connection to all the characters.
Bookmarks Magazine
Jan 08, 2009 Bookmarks Magazine rated it liked it
By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Miriam Toews
Evelyn
Feb 12, 2017 Evelyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Generally I find it difficult to read books without proper punctuation, but even though there was not a single quotation mark in this entire book, somehow I had no trouble following the dialogue.

I loved this quirky family and their plight pulled at my heartstrings. Two children who are missing the most basic of necessities - a home with a responsible adult. While their mother is spending some time in mental health care, their just-dumped, childless aunt arrives. She takes them on a road trip to
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Dianne
Oct 21, 2011 Dianne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
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
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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
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
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
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Kate
Apr 17, 2009 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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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.” 11 likes
“If, along the way, something is gained, then something will also be lost.” 9 likes
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