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The Turner House

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3.64  ·  Rating details ·  13,788 ratings  ·  1,795 reviews
There ain't no haints in Detroit.

So spoke Francis Turner—patriarch and provider, former preacher and current truck driver—when his children claimed to have seen a ghost. A rising homeowner set to banish all the old ways for the promise of the new, Francis was having none of it. He and his wife worked hard to secure that house, to move up from Arkansas to Detroit, to make t
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Hardcover, 341 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Kim I LOVED this book. I thought it captured a family and a time and a neighborhood very well. I thought it was a great American novel. And I like how she…moreI LOVED this book. I thought it captured a family and a time and a neighborhood very well. I thought it was a great American novel. And I like how she never really brought all the plot points together, but she brought the family together--the more important thing. She brought forward a voice and a story that we don't often hear, that of a middle class black family living in an urban area without all the cliches, Just a normal, relatable family. Also, I enjoyed the humor and the fact that there weren't any horrific tragedies. (As I recall. It's been a while since I read it. But it remains one of my favorite books of that year.)(less)

Community Reviews

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3.64  · 
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 ·  13,788 ratings  ·  1,795 reviews


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karen
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
"There ain't no haints in Detroit."

this is just a great old-fashioned family story with wonderful spirit and sympathetic characters; one part american historical, one part contemporary housing crisis, with ghosts, addiction, illness, and the myriad conflicts that affect a family over the course of their lives both together and apart.

the turner family consists of thirteen siblings born in detroit to viola and francis, now grown and mostly scattered, many with children of their own. their newest c
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Jaidee
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those that like an emotional and realistic family saga
Recommended to Jaidee by: gift from a friend

4.5 "solid, moving and engaging debut" stars.

2016 Honorable Mention

Ms. Flournoy has written a very strong first novel that is full of raw emotion, minute traumas and the struggle to live, love and die on one's own terms.

Ma and Pa Turner are from Arkansas. African-American and poor. Full of hopes and dreams for themselves and their family and they move to vibrant Detroit. As their brood grows to thirteen children the city starts to die and become dangerous and chaotic. Each of the brood have th
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Elyse Walters
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Knowing that this story was inspired by the author's personal history added additional
warm feelings from the start. Yet, I had read mixed reviews soon after wanting to read it. I knew it was nominated the national book award in 2015....and was still curious...enough to buy it for a $1.99 Kindle.
So...I finally took time to read it...( much of it during my sauna resting time on my old Kindle)....and I liked it. It's one big family saga...( the type of books I'm a sucker for).


"The Turner House",
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Jamise // Spines & Vines
What a disappointment! This family story had so much potential but the story development never materialized. There were several moments where I felt like the author was rambling and I as the reader was thinking what is she talking about. When I finally came to the end I was left with the feeling of nothingness. Yes it was about family ties, struggles, sibling rivalry & love, however I expected more depth. Reading this book kept me in a continuous fog, no vision & unable find direction.

R
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Read In Colour
Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I hate to compare books, especially ones that are really well written in their own right, but this reminded me of Ayana Mathis' The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. The thing that made it better, in my opinion, is that the characters are tied together. In The Twelve Tribes, even though the characters are siblings, their stories are written in such a way that they can stand alone and there's little interaction between the siblings as adults. So while we see them interact as children, once they move into ...more
Terryn
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I laughed so much...the characters remind me of my own family. In particular, the character Lelah was so real and well-drawn -- I wanted to know what else happens to the Turner family and Lelah even after the book ended. Strong debut!
Bark (Has Atrocious Taste)
This review and the rest of the crap I write can be found at my blog Bark's Book Nonsense

I was under the impression that this was a book about a haunted house.

At about the halfway mark I finally realized that I was quite mistaken. Yes, it took me that long to figure things out.



This is a book about suburban decay, family dynamics and little life dramas. It’s well written but it’s not a ghost story, not even close and that’s entirely my own fault. I guess I saw the word “haint” somewhere in the d
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stacia
Oct 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Turner House is the story of 13 siblings (most notably, the eldest, Cha-Cha, and the youngest, Lelah). It's a beautifully drawn narrative that transitions through time, alternately telling the 1940s story of parents Francis and Viola and shifting between the perspectives of their middle-aged children. At the core of the narrative are a haunt and a family house in Detroit that needs either to be sold for much less than its worth or paid off by each sibling at a price far higher than its value ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
After reading Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff, I've wanted to read more about Detroit "natives." Flournoy takes a family that is deeply ingrained in the city and tells their story alternating between a few weeks in the 1940s and 2008. In 2008, the oldest brother of thirteen children is trying to figure out what to do about his family home. His mother has failing health and she owes more on the home than what it is worth.

I read this book because it was nominated for the National Bo
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Rebecca
Nov 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
In Flournoy’s debut, the 13 grown children of Francis and Viola Turner must put aside personal baggage to decide what will become of their parents’ Detroit house during the financial crisis. The novel prioritizes the oldest and youngest children: Cha-Cha is haunted (literally) by a teenage experience, while Lelah’s gambling addiction lost her a job and an apartment. Through flashbacks to the 1940s, when Francis first left Arkansas, Flournoy shows how important this house has been. To me, though, ...more
Ruthie
May 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
***SPOILERS!!!!***
I was really excited to read this book, it sounded so promising, but ultimately I felt let-down. There were so many elements to this story, and each could/should have made for an intriguing read, but I think the author took on too much.
The Turner family is comprised of 13 siblings growing up in a 3 1/2 bedroom house - now there is the set-up for some great sibling dynamics! Just the day-to-day details would have been fascinating to me...where did they all sleep, eat, how did t
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Sarah
Nov 09, 2015 rated it liked it
When the National Book Award nominations for 2015 came out last month, I got on the library wait list for several that interested me. The first one I received was Angela Flournoy’s “The Turner House.” It is the story of an African America family in Detroit. In many ways, the family’s ups and down are tied to that of the city. Along with Francis and Viola and their 13 children, Detroit and Yarrow Street are major characters complete with bad decisions, hard times, hopeful redemption and fierce lo ...more
Denise
Feb 01, 2016 rated it liked it


The Turner House is basically a long story about a large family that included 13 children. Through a series of flashbacks, the reader learns how Viola and Francis (the parents) decide to move to Detroit from Arkansas. Their house on Yarrow Street is central to the story. Cha Cha, the eldest child and his sister Lelah are prominent in the near present story. Unfortunately I did not become engaged with any of the characters or the story. It was just a good read for me not a great one. 3 stars
Mocha Girl
Oct 08, 2014 rated it liked it
The Turner House is a solid family-oriented debut novel which focuses on Francis and Viola’s marriage and their thirteen children. Alternating passages and flashback sequences provide glimpses into the family’s origins in rural Arkansas and detail the hardships and challenges as they migrate to Detroit in hopes of a brighter and more promising future for themselves and their brood. The story primarily focuses on the father’s (Francis), the eldest son’s (Charles), and the youngest daughter’s (Lal ...more
La Tonya  Jordan
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to La Tonya by: Critical Mass Book Carmel, IN
Shelves: good-read
Francis and Viola Turner moved from Arkansas to Detroit (The Motor City) druning the end of WWII. There marriage produced thirteen children. Overall, they had a hppay life. As adults, the children reflect on their childhood as their childhood home on Yarrow Street, in Detroit, maybe foreclosed by the bank. The story of Cha-Cha's haint (ghost) takes center stage? Was it real? Has it come back? Did the haint ever leave?

Share the laugher, tears, smiles, and wonders as the Turner children reflect. S
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Book Riot Community
I was really happy to start out my 2016 reading with a Book Riot favorite. The Turner family has lived in their home on the eastern side of Detroit for 50 years. When it becomes clear ailing matriarch Viola is unable to live in the house herself anymore, the 13 Turner children must come together to decide what to do with their family home. Complicating factors in the housing crisis, which has left the house worth just a fraction of its mortgage. I loved the way Turner captured the dynamics betwe ...more
Cindy
Huh? I kept waiting for something to happen. It never did.
Based on the book's description, I was expecting to learn more about the thirteen children growing up together in the house on Yarrow Street. I was expecting to learn about the progression of the neighborhood's fall. I was expecting to read about how each of the kids' pasts haunts--and shapes--their family's future. I was expecting to read a striking examination of the price we pay for our dreams and futures & the ways in which our fa
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Taryn Pierson
Mar 01, 2015 rated it liked it
As a teacher I was often annoyed when a so-called expert in the field harped on the topic of assigning “relevant” literature. Sure, it makes sense to motivate kids who are reluctant readers by offering them books about people like them, with challenges they'll recognize from their own lives. It's a great starting point. But you don't have to look like or talk like or live like the characters in a book to relate to them. We're united by a common humanity, it's good to get outside your bubble ever ...more
Aaron Robertson
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this book for various reasons. I'm lucky enough to have an opportunity to interview the author in a month's time, and I have yearned to read more novels about Detroit. The book opens with two epigraphs; one from Zora Neale Hurston's landmark anthropological work 'Mules and Men', the other from Detroit's own beloved Philip Levine. They set the tone for a novel about how the past, both when repressed and come to light, can haunt (literally and figuratively) the members of a family. As much ...more
Colleen
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great read. A Detroit family as told through the eyes of a few characters and what shaped them to who they are today. A great character study and background history of race and the housing market in Detroit. This book really made me think and wonder about all of our quirks. The young author has a nice way of writing too.

Thank you to Goodreads giveaways for a book to review in an honest way. :)

It didn't seem like a long time to Cha-Cha. Fifty years, a wife, two children, one grandchild; t
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Nicole Falls
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I struggled with this. I ended the book thinking I thought it was just ok. Then days later I'm still thinking about Cha Cha, Lelah, and the rest of the fam. Wanting to know what happened after I turned the last page.
Stephany Wilkes
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Finally, at long last, a Great American Novel written about an America I actually recognize: Detroit.

There is so much to recommend this book: its range and depth of characters, all of whom are complex, presented with empathy, hero and anti-hero; its can't-put-it-down pacing; the evident mastery of craft. Flournoy really knows how to turn a phrase.

It is important, to me, that Flournoy puts people -- especially Black people, the majority of the city -- back into the story of what has happened in
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Jennifer
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
2.5-stars. This book had wonderful potential, but it just never really came together for me in the end. I think the novel is a great outing for a first book, and I will definitely pickup Flournoy's next one. My favourite parts were when the focus was on the city of Detroit. It's such a tough place that deserves to thrive again. I am glad Flournoy shines a light by setting her story here. The characters were where I felt things floundered about. I don't need tidy endings, and I am fine with ambig ...more
Beverly
Jan 09, 2015 rated it liked it
This was a 3.5 star book for me.

Flournoy’s beautifully written debut novel portrays family relationships with insight and fairness and while specific to the African-American Turner family in a specific time and place yet is universal in its appeal and subject matter. The house in the title has been in the Turner family for 50 years and was home to parents Francis and Viola and their 13 children and some of their grandchildren. The home sits in Detroit’s East Side in a community that has seen bet
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Erica
I am such a sucker for family stories and this one was a delight. I loved the Turner family.

13 kids, though. THIRTEEN! It's not unheard of, I know, but I can't imagine that many siblings. 3 drove me crazy, I don't know what another 9 would have done. Even with my cousins, there were only 8 of us. But 13?

This is also sort of a ghost story but while there is a spectre, the real ghost is the past. It haunts ChaCha, the oldest, both literally and figuratively. It haunts Tony, the cop who isn't quite
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Linda Robinson
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
From the homey title to the last paragraph, Flournoy's debut novel wraps us up in literary arms and brings us into the lives of the Turners; Viola and Francis, their 13 children and the house on Yarrow Street. Isabel Wilkerson's excellent book - The Warmth of Other Suns - is a nonfiction primer for the Turners' story. This is a big, loving, secret-holding family. Flournoy's writing skills bring us into the hallway in the opening chapter, dodging Lonnie, fearing what we think we see while denying ...more
Bailey
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully-written, transcendent novel that should be marked as one of the greats of 2015. It was nominated for many awards, and worthy of all of them, and I hope people remember it and continue to read it. It took me a while to get to it, but everyone is right: this is a winding literary novel that is worth your time.

I think I might have liked it even more had I not read it as part of the reading list for the 2016 Tournament of Books, but that's because most of those are Books About
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Karina
Apr 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
3.5 stars - recommend!
Amy
10-20min increments while driving were not enough to satisfy with this book... but it means I managed to spend an entire month with the Turner family and the amazing narrator (Adenrele Ojo) who provided their voices. Not nearly enough.
Cha Cha favored short, earnest prayer and he often wondered what took others so long. It had something to do with excess supplication he suspected. He never presented a long list of specific requests to God. Had always felt uncomfortable with the presumptuousness
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Becky
I didn't dislike this book as much as some people did, but I didn't love it either.
It is about a family of 13 adult children, coming to grips with their "lot" in life & dealing with their aging mom & the family home ( The Turner House) in the urban decline of so many cities.
To me it was a small slice of life, focused mostly on a few of the family members. There was not a real strong, gripping story....just a family & dealing with what many families of these ages are dealing with- la
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ANGELA FLOURNOY is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the University of Southern California. She has taught writing at the University of Iowa and Trinity Washington University, and worked for the Washington, D.C. Public Library. Her debut novel THE TURNER HOUSE will be released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in April 2015.
“Humans haunt more houses than ghosts do.” 11 likes
“The things we do in the name of protecting others are so often attempts to spare some part of ourselves.” 10 likes
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