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The Flying Troutmans

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  7,055 ratings  ·  712 reviews
"Min was stranded in her bed, hooked on the blue torpedoes and convinced that a million silver cars were closing in on her (I didn't know what Thebes meant either), Logan was in trouble at school, something about the disturbing stories he was writing, Thebes was pretending to be Min on the phone with his principal, the house was crumbling around them, the black screen door ...more
Hardcover, 274 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by Knopf Canada (first published 2008)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,055 ratings  ·  712 reviews

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Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loved, millie
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
Jennifer (aka EM)
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian-author
Another wonderful story by Miriam Toews.
The road trip to find Churkis after Min is hospitalized gives Hattie, Logan and Thebes the chance to determine how to move forward in their lives. In the process, they learn, grow and gain strength.
As always, Miriam Toews' writing is funny and heartbreaking. She manages to balance between these two extremes with grace and finesse.

Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

Dec 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Will Ansbacher
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
After reading All My Puny Sorrows , The Flying Troutmans seemed like a possible sketch for the later, more complex work. While it is certainly very good, (and Toews has an amazing capacity to demonstrate how fragile human beings are), I didn’t quite get the same emotional charge here.

There are the same sister figures as in Sorrows – the narrator is the younger one, Hattie, with the same low opinion of her own abilities, and an unstable older sister Min, who is often psychotic and sometimes su
Mar 04, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Ron Charles
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kelly Holmes
Oct 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I've found a new favorite author. 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 anyway. Logan and Thebes yelled at each other all the way back, the music cranked the whole time.

Thebes: Sta
Feb 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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*
Mar 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2010
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. ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life

I have read a few books by Toews now, and she is on my list of favourite authors. This just means I will give every book they have written a chance, no matter the genre or topic. So far, I have not cared for one book (Irma Voth) so that is pretty good odds.

I will start this review with...this book will not be to every reader's liking. It is a quirky book. The story, the characters, and even the road trip are all quirky. There is a dark humour that helps to balance some tough topi
Dec 10, 2008 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Jul 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 08, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Lisabet Sarai
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sane families are all alike; every crazy family is crazy in its own way.

With apologies to Leo Tolstoy, this could well be the tag line for Miriam Toews’ original and moving novel, The Flying Troutmans.

Hattie Troutman is living in Paris, trying to adjust to being dumped by her boyfriend, when she gets a long-distance call from her eleven year old niece Thebes (short for Theodora) in Manitoba. Hattie’s older sister Min has, once again, descended into severe depression, leaving Thebes and her bro
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
Sep 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oh I loved this book - funny and disfunctional and terribly sad in places, but nevertheless a delightful journey with a family battling crazy in all it's manifestations. I'm definitely going to make the students read this one - they will love it's humour, it's honesty and, despite all the crap that life deals the Troutmans - they'll like the beam of hope that comes out of the pages of their roadtrip. Have they made this in to a film I wonder? The way Toews writes is so visual and colourful I can ...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
Feb 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Heather Tucker
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My Favourite book by Miriam Toews. Wonderful humour and connection to all the characters.
Sophie U
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Miriam Toewes, I love you.

For the first few chapters I thought this might be too grim for me, but it soon sucked me in.

Her writing is so beautiful it makes me want to cry. It’s simple, easy to understand, and shockingly evocative.

Her grasp on these strange, beautiful characters is truly masterful. The voices are weird and zany and bizarre but somehow fully believable and utterly heart wrenching.

I didn’t want this road trip to end.
Barbara Carter
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sometimes after a run of memoir and nonfiction books, I turn to fiction for a rest period.
Still, I prefer that depth of real life. And what better than Miriam Toews, a Canadian writer, who grew up in Steinbach, Manitoba, in a Mennonite family.
When I drove across Canada a couple years ago, one of my stops was to visit the Mennonite Heritage Village in Manitoba.
Yes, the fiction I like tends to be on the darker side. Mental illness. Suicide. Tough subjects to cover, even in fiction. And Toews re
Stephanie (aka WW)
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love the way Miriam Toews writes. It’s bold and confident and humorous, even as she delves into dark areas of the human psyche. The two books I’ve read of hers, this and All My Puny Sorrows, have featured protagonists that are obsessed with suicide. She doesn’t gloss over the turmoil or play to it comically, but treats it seriously and shows its effect on relationships. In The Flying Troutmans, Toews writes of the love between sisters, and the love that children have for a parent, no matter ho ...more
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book of this author and, literally, she is such a brilliant writer.
At the beginning I thought that maybe it was a little bit slow, not such an impression as the other one, but then I fall in love with every character.
Sweet and a very good book.
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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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