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The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls

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The Mothers meets An American Marriage in this dazzling debut novel about mothers and daughters, identity and family, and how the relationships that sustain you can also be the ones that consume you.

The Butler family has had their share of trials—as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest—but nothing prepared them for the literal trial that will upend their lives.

Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will. They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when she and her husband Proctor are arrested, and in a heartbeat the family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace. The worst part is, not even her sisters are sure exactly what happened.

As Althea awaits her fate, Lillian and Viola must come together in the house they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters. What unfolds is a stunning portrait of the heart and core of an American family in a story that is as page-turning as it is important.

294 pages, Hardcover

First published February 19, 2019

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About the author

Anissa Gray

2 books535 followers
Anissa Gray was born and raised in western Michigan, where her father pastored a Pentecostal church and her mother was a homemaker. She graduated from Western Michigan University and received her Masters in English from New York University. After graduate school, Anissa went on to work as a print reporter at Reuters in Manhattan, covering global financial news. That was followed by a move to Atlanta and the initiation of her career in broadcast journalism at CNN, where she has held roles as writer, editor, and producer, receiving Emmy and duPont awards for contributions to the network’s coverage of major stories.

After more than 20 years as a journalist, Anissa, a lifelong book lover and voracious reader, pursued fiction writing, applying her love of storytelling from the realm of real-life, newsworthy happenings to the events and encounters that shape our lives. Her first novel, The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, will be published in 2019.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,494 reviews
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews155k followers
December 9, 2020

She's never been good to me. She's always been different with me.
The Butler family - Althea, Viola, Lillian and Joe - had a rough childhood. They've each managed to escape but not without scars.

Althea, powerful and dominating, pulled her younger siblings up and out from squalor and raised them herself. She finds herself in the center of a scandal and her world is rocked to the core.
"But it was Althea and Proctor Cochran, people we trusted, who laid waste to the faith and loyalty of this whole town, holding their fund-raisers, taking our money, promising to help, but never delivering. We want to see justice done."
Viola, intelligent and damaged, made it through college and now works as a psychologist with her partner, Eva, but their most recent rough patch may be the end for them. She's coming into town to help Lillian with Baby Vi and Kim while running from other things...
But I recall that deadly serious look in Kim's eyes...something dark, something distant, something desperate.
Lillian, flustered and terrified, has taken in Althea's twin teenage daughters (Baby Vi and Kim). She's begging for help but when it is offered, she realizes that she cannot accept.
"It's...everything's all right, right? Everything's normal."
...Anger snaps through me like a whip. "Nothing's normal."
Joe, charming and cruel, was once a source of abject terror for Lillian but he's now a pastor and has offered to take in the twins (much to Lillian's horror).
Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.
Althea was the backbone of the Butlers and eventually became the center of their little town. But now she and her husband (Proctor) are in jail and the shock ripples through the town.

The ripple effect quickly becomes a tsunami and the entire butler family is about to capsize.

And at the center of the storm? Kim and Baby Vi.
I'm worried...It's been four days. It's like she's vapor out there. What if she really left town? Where to?
Will the family be able to pull through? Or will they scatter into the wind?
"You're not going to find her," she said, her voice cracking, "I waited too late."
First book of the new year and wow. It was truly excellent.

The author just blew me out of the water.

This book felt so raw and real.

The characters felt truly alive - their emotions and actions were perfectly rendered.

This was told through three alternating first-person perspectives (Althea, Viola and Lillian) and I never doubted for a minute which character was which. They all had such distinct personalities.

The sisters really drove every aspect of the book and it was so expertly done that by the end, I really felt like I could have a conversation with them.

Also, I loved how the author portrayed real issues (bulimia, neglect, addiction) without falling into stereotypical behaviors or turning it into a Lifetime movie - thank goodness for that.

The characters, the world-building, the everything - it was all amazing.

So glad this was the first book of the year. Talk about a great start!

With thanks to Berkley Publishing for a free copy in exchange for an honest review

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Profile Image for Angela M .
1,286 reviews2,205 followers
January 24, 2019
4+ stars

Families seem to rally around each other in times of crisis, even dysfunctional ones where the relationships are complicated and where resentments and hurts have burdened them for many years. This is such an impressive debut and Anissa Gray doesn’t pull any punches here as the Butler siblings come together to care for their teenage nieces whose lives are upended when their parents are imprisoned for embezzling charity money. The past relationships of three sisters, Althea, Lillian, Viola and their brother Joe come to the surface through the multiple narratives of the three sisters. While their concern is for their two nieces and how best to care for them, the things that happened when they were children are still haunting them and are interfering with their desire to help their nieces. Each of them is also facing dilemmas in their present life. On top of this, the complexity of the story is compounded by the fact that one of the daughters, Kim actually reported her parents to the police, bringing to light another difficult relationship of a mother and daughter.

There is a lot going on here which makes it hard to discuss without giving anything away. So I’ll just say that this is a wonderfully written story. It’s hard to read at times when you see the emotional toll that the past has taken on these characters that I cared about from the beginning in spite of their flaws, their mistakes. They are loving people in spite of it all. I couldn’t help but hope from the beginning that there would be a way forward for this hurting family, a way to heal, hoping that they could rise to the occasion to save each other and themselves from what is happening now and what is haunting them from the past. Looking forward to what this author will do in the future. Definitely recommended.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Berkley through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,159 reviews36.8k followers
October 22, 2018
5 Extremely Emotional Stars.

Have you ever been so unprepared for a book that you were completely bowled over by it? You start reading and the tears immediately runneth over? A part of you recognizes the angst, the fear and the regret? The inability to communicate the words that should be said but aren’t? Yeah for me, that book was “The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls” by Anissa Gray.

There are some families where the dysfunction is so prevalent, so widespread, that it seems almost impossible to unpack - such is the case with the Butlers.

Althea and Proctor did something very illegal: embezzlement - unfortunately, for them, they got caught. Now they have to pay the price with a lengthy jail sentence, leaving Althea’s sisters, Viola and Lillian to pick up the pieces.

Althea has never been an easy woman to deal with. She has been hardened by life and has never been able to show affection, not to her sisters, or to her children, Kim and Baby Vi. Her idea of parenting is tough love. Unfortunately, it has had a major impact on all of them - and not in a good way.

What do you do when you can’t trust yourself and the fact of the matter is, the people closest to you don’t even know you? When you are unable to communicate your thoughts and feelings for fear of opening up old wounds? Ask the Butler family. Oh wait, you can’t. They won’t talk about it. Hence why they are in this predicament.

Dysfunction runs rampant in this family, such that it slowly tears the Butlers apart. “The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls” is a work of fiction that ripped me in two, time and again. That said, through Althea, Proctor, Viola, Lillian, Kim and Baby Vi, you can actually feel what they are going through: heartbreak, love, pain and resilience. There were times when my stomach was all knotted up, scared and worried and then there were times when my fingers were crossed. Each moment I was completely in it, with Viola and Lillian. When I realized that this book was Anissa Gray’s debut, I was stunned. It is a brilliant read to say the least.

This novel will top my favorites list for 2018. I hope it will appear on yours as well. It is stupendous and it evoked emotions in me that I cannot even begin to express. Books about dysfunctional families are one of my favorite genres and I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to read and review it.

A huge thank you to both Elisha at Berkley Publishing Group and to Anissa Gray for an advanced readers copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I absolutely loved it.

Published on Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram on 10.21.18.
Release date: 2.19.19.
Profile Image for Mary Beth .
382 reviews1,654 followers
March 16, 2019
Althea and Proctor are convicted of fraud. They are incarcerated for some illegal business practices. They are found guilty of stealing charity money.

Althea's sisters, Lillian and Viola are dealing with their own drama as well as their younger brother. Athea's's younger daughters, Kim and Baby Vi are left without anyone to care for them. These girls went through so much. They were ravenous hungry. Viola and Lillian get together and support their neices. The family goes from one of the most respected in the town to utter disgrace.

The book also centers around Althea's life in prison along with her cell mates and her Bible study group. There are also letters written from Proctor, her husband, sent to
her from his prison cell.

This book tore at my heart strings. It was so emotional, so much drama. This family went through so much, and was so dysfunctional. I couldn't believe that I was actually reading a debut novel. This was an intense story. I had so many different emotions. I felt so angry and sad. But aren't the most memorable books, the ones, that makes us feel every emotion?
I thought the ending was so touching and it brought tears to my eyes.

This is a character driven story. All the characters were so well done. The one that I felt so sorry for was Kim. She went through so much. I felt connected with all the characters.
This book is beautifully written and the prose is beautiful too. The genre is literary fiction and contemporary. I was surprised how much I loved this one. It will surely be a memorable book.

I want to thank Edelweiss, Berkley publishing, and Anissa Gray for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
773 reviews4,641 followers
March 24, 2019
"Sometimes life can pull a lot out of you... Just squeeze you dry. And if you don't have a way to get back whatever's good and precious to you, it's like losing your soul."

An emotional, touching and heartfelt debut from Anissa Gray. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls put us right in the middle of family strife and dysfunction - ensnaring our hearts, breaking them and eventually leaving us with a spark of hope for the future.

When we meet Althea and Joe Proctor they are in jail, for embezzelment of charity funds. Heartless scoundrels like these are not the kind of people you would have any pity for. Yet, as with most things in life we come to see that it's not all so black & white, right and wrong - there are shades of gray here. It is in these shades of gray that Gray tells the real story of this family. How did these people get here, to this point where everything has come tumbling down?

This is not a happy story. It is filled with familial dysfunction, secrets, loss, guilt, depression, eating disorders, crime, abuse, infidelity, and attempted suicide. It was definitely hard to read at times but it was also honest and hauntingly written. I found myself rooting for these people. Willing them to find a way to get it together, to allow love into their hearts and finally find some happiness. For just like the characters in this book, isn't that what we are all ravenously hungry for - love, acceptance and happiness?

This is a story that will move you. The characters are complex and the story has many layers. Anissa Gray does an amazing job of peeling back the layers and letting us peek into the very core of her characters so that we understand who they are and how they ended up where they are. She takes the old adage of becoming your parents and turns it on its head, leaving us with hope that negative cycles can be broken.

Thank you Anissa Gray, Penguin Publishing and Edelweiss for an arc of this book.
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,574 reviews5,908 followers
October 23, 2018
Let's get it out there. I didn't like this book. What does that mean? Not a thing. It is getting all the stars from everyone else and will probably be a best seller and make fifty eleven million dollars.
AND I could totally see this happening.

But without Medea in it. I love Medea. She knows my heart.

The story is a family drama. One of the sisters is in jail, one is losing her marriage, one has a eating disorder..the kids are messed up. It's a hot mess of a life. You know like everyone's real life is..

Well...not that bad. Medea showed up in my review since she can't be in this book/movie.

I can see why people are loving this book. I was bored. I kept thinking it would get better and I'd see the light. I didn't connect with any characters. I didn't care what happened to any of them the entire book. I had to make myself finish the book.
I'm a total wrong reader.

Booksource: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. Please don't hate me Mr/Mrs Publisher...I'll read the next one better.
Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
February 12, 2021
looking for great books to read during black history month...and the other eleven months? i'm going to float some of my favorites throughout the month, and i hope they will find new readers!

#ReadWithMC review round-up: https://www.marieclaire.com/culture/a...

i need to stop being shocked when debuts are as good as this. but ohhhh, man, this is one seriously impressive debut.

there have been a lot of comparisons made between this book and The Mothers, which i 100% see&agree, but The Turner House is another touchpoint worth mentioning, not only because they are both debut “problem novels” featuring contemporary african-american families whose problems are both social/racial and familial, but also because of the symbolic importance of the physical home in both - the childhood home preserved, changed, revisited in adulthood, its place in memory, as silent witness/keeper of secrets, etc.

however, this one plays a little rougher than The Turner House, and the long-arc road of the butler family’s fracturing and coming back together (and of its individual members fracturing and coming back to themselves) leans a shade more into the realm of tragedy than The Turner House ever ventures.

the book opens in a prison, where althea and proctor; small business owners, community leaders, parents of teenaged twin daughters — an all-around well-respected couple, have been convicted of numerous white-collar crimes, causing a series of small chaos-ripples to shake the family tree, creating new problems and awakening others long-buried.

the novel’s first person POV is passed between althea and her two younger sisters: lillian and viola. you would think that althea’s rags-to-riches-to-rags tale of having been a teenager raising three younger siblings after parental death and abandonment to becoming a successful restaurateur to ending up in the clink would be the big draw, but of the three characters, hers was the least interesting to me.

how viola and lillian cope with the sudden responsibility of althea’s daughters (one of whom has become worryingly unruly), with stepping up out from under althea’s shadow, with family secrets old and new, with disappointments, betrayals, abuse, with the shame and scrutiny of being connected to a big scandal in a small town — all of that is so much richer in meaty drama than althea’s self-reflective prisoner’s solitude. she’s certainly not boring, but to me she’s the least sympathetic character (which has nothing to do with her crimes), whereas viola’s bulimia and tenderly fragile relationship with her currently-estranged wife and lillian’s — okay, basically everything about lillian, is so damn vivid and affecting. viola’s an easy sell - a badass, successful lesbian who projects confidence but is also dealing (or not dealing) with her own destructive compulsions. lillian’s psychology is even more complex — it’s an emotional web made of duty and suffering; the baby of the family stepping up to be punished for the sins of a family -- she’s whatever the word is that’s halfway between martyrdom and endurance that doesn’t make you want to roll your eyes. it's perfection.

it is a fantastic debut and a great addition to the Great American Family Drama category. and i mean, really, that cover? swoon city.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Julie .
4,028 reviews58.9k followers
June 7, 2019
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray is a 2019 Berkley publication.

Even healthy and happy families are complicated and complex. This is especially true with mother and daughter relationships, and the connections between sisters. In this novel, Gray examines the darker aspects of the relationship between three sisters as they struggle to make peace with a turbulent past.

The reader must watch as they slowly, and often painfully, accept a new set of equally challenging circumstances, and learn to cope with personal demons, while trying to do what is best for the next generation.

Althea helped to raise her younger siblings, often taking the brunt of their abusive father’s righteous wrath. Now, as adults, Althea and her husband, Procter, are facing prison time, which means their twin daughters, Kim and Baby Vi, are staying with Althea’s sister, Lillian.

Lillian, a widow, who is already taking care of her aging former mother-in-law, is at a loss about how to deal Kim’s problems. Lillian is haunted by her own experience with abuse, while Viola, on a break from her long-term girlfriend, is struggling to keep her eating disorder at bay.

This novel is a poignant, yet powerful debut novel. The story alternates between the first- person narrative of the three sisters, as they each share their own journey from the past to the present.

This technique is especially effective here, as the reader can see the same set of events from different perspectives. Each sister endured a traumatic childhood, and is coping in her own individual way, while harboring unique memories, fears, and resentments.

However, Lillian and Viola rise to the occasion when they become responsible for their nieces, while Althea must take responsibility for her actions, and accept the reality of her own proclivities and shortcomings.

The future offers hope, as they all begin the journey towards forgiveness, acceptance, and healing, not only as individuals, but as strong women, mothers, daughters, sisters and family.

Even though the story lags in a few spots, it is realistic, raw, and unflinchingly emotional, but above all, hopeful. I know I will think of these characters often and wish them well.

A very solid and personal debut novel!

4 stars

Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,737 reviews14.1k followers
November 19, 2018
A terrifically rendered novel of a family in crisis. When Althea and her husband Proctor are arrested, they leave two teeen twin daughters in the care of their Aunt Lillian. It is while in jail, and while the rest of this family tries to figure out how to help the girls, that little known secrets come spilling out. Secrets of the past, after the death of their own mother, three sisters and one brother cope with being left with a father who had a terrible temper, a minister who was often away. Their care mainly in the hands of a young Althea, until their father decided to stay, divide up the family.

A story with many layers, and under the layers, many scars. Individual ways of dealing with the trauma that even as adults they do not want to face. Scars that manifest in different ways, until they threaten to spill over into the next generation. Written in a raw, honest manner, a thoroughly believable look at a terribly flawed family, but one that comes together in love to help two young girls. While doing this they face and recognize their own silent and not so silent ghosts of the past, and are forced to deal with them. A book about second chances, if one can find the strength to take them, and the strength of women to cope and change.

"And mama told me, "You girls, us women, we're water." Strong stuff. A force of nature. A source of life."


ARC from Berkeley.
Profile Image for Deanna .
664 reviews12.4k followers
December 30, 2018
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

3.5 Stars

With such an awesome title and cover I was immediately interested in getting my hands on this novel. The description was intriguing.

The Mothers meets An American Marriage in this dazzling debut novel about mothers and daughters, identity and family, and how the relationships that sustain you can also be the ones that consume you.”

We first meet Althea. Althea is telling us what jail is like. She says it’s a place where you definitely do a lot of thinking. She lives in a cell that is the size of her walk-in closet at home. Althea often compares what she’s done to other inmate’s crimes so she can say “at least I didn’t do THAT”. The Chaplain tells her that no good can come from comparing. The Chaplain also said her crime does not have to define who she is.

Who am I?

Althea never thought she’d leave her home in New River Junction. She had made promises that kept her there. But she’s been moving further away since that fateful day two years earlier. The day the police came. At first Althea and her husband, Proctor thought the men were there for lunch. But they were there as cops, not customers.

“I don’t know how to say this, but look, we gotta take Y'all in.”

They didn’t know that day had started with a phone call that would change everything. The caller was someone no one would have ever expected…especially Althea.

NOW…Althea and Proctor await their fate.

Althea isn’t the only one wondering who she is. Other members of the family wonder the same about themselves.

When Lillian moved home years earlier she would never have guessed she’d end up where she is now. She wishes that her sister, Viola would step in to help out with the girls. Lillian is trying her best but feels she’s getting it wrong. Plus she’s found this has brought up things from the past, things that she (and some of the other members of the family) would prefer to forget.

Will she be able to confront the past?

Viola lives in Chicago but has come back to help out with Kim and Baby Vi. But Viola is also struggling. She is trying to deal with everything going on in the family as well as her own health and well-being.

The Butler family has had their struggles but over the years became one of the most respected families in town. But nothing prepares the family for the night Althea and Proctor are arrested. And just when they think things can’t get any worse? They do. Will the family get it together enough to help not just Althea’s children but themselves too?

I enjoyed this story. However, I did have a hard time getting into it at first. It felt like there were a lot of characters and I was finding it difficult keeping everyone straight. However, I am glad that I stuck with it as I really found my groove around the halfway mark.

The story is told with the sister's alternating points of view and includes letters Althea and Proctor write each other while in jail. We learn a lot about this family and their struggles. I thought the author did a good job of bringing many issues to light. The story shows what can happen when anger and jealousy take over. We see the very different ways in which the characters upbringing and early experiences helped define them and stayed with them throughout their lives.

Overall, I thought this was a good debut novel. An interesting story about longing, hunger (the many kinds), secrets, guilt, family, loyalty, and much more.

I’m excited to see what Anissa Gray writes next.

I'd like to thank Berkley Publishing for providing me with an advanced copy of this novel.
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews931 followers
December 27, 2018
3.5 Stars rounded up ⭐

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls follows a family dealing with the fallout after a sister/mother and her husband are convicted and subsequently sent to prison for stealing money from a charity they created.

In no time at all I felt a kinship with these characters because I have dealt with similar circumstances within my own family. My mother was imprisoned when I was 13 years old which provides me with a different point of view than most readers of this book.

That being said, I feel like the perspective of the girls in this story was lacking, leaving me craving more inner dialogue from these young ladies. Somehow the most important characters were the least fleshed out.

Anissa Gray has created a lovely tapestry of a family not only dealing with their present circumstances, but with the long buried pains of their pasts that might never have been dealt with if not for this difficult situation of which they've had forced upon them.

This is not a topic that is covered enough in literary fiction, which is surprising considering the number of Americans that suffer through the incarceration of their loved ones.

I applaud the author for shining a light on this seemingly dirty secret that families keep for fear of being judged by the actions of those that they love. I know that's how I felt.

I won an ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Yayyyyyy me 👐 All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
November 28, 2018
I'm between 4 and 4.5 stars here.

First of all, how cool is the title of this book?

This powerful, poignant debut novel examines how easy family ties can go from comforting to smothering, and how the scars of youth can still prove damaging long into adulthood.

"If, as a mother, I am my father's daughter, and I hate everything about him, what am I as a sister, who was all the mother they had?"

Althea was little more than a teenager when her mother died, leaving her to be a surrogate parent for her three younger siblings, Viola, Joe, and baby Lillian. Their father was a traveling preacher, mercurial on good days and violent on bad ones, wanted little to do with his children, but Althea wasn't really sure how to do more for her siblings than simply follow their mother's example. Sometimes that worked, but sometimes her siblings chafed under her discipline.

When Althea met Proctor, he offered protection—from the responsibilities of surrogate parenthood and from her fears about her father. Although they had two daughters of their own, Althea never felt like she "got" motherhood, often struggling with her relationships with her daughters, especially her oldest, Kim. Althea and Proctor became pillars of the community, owning a restaurant and leading many fundraising events for different charities.

But in an instant, everything fell apart. Proctor and Althea were arrested, guilty of crimes that left their entire community feeling angry and betrayed. They went from being respected to being ostracized, and that treatment extended to their girls as well. Suddenly Lillian is given responsibility for raising the girls, and while she does the best job she can, she has her own problems, her own issues to deal with. And when Viola arrives, trailing the debris of her own life, they try to see if two broken people can help bring normalcy to two teenage girls who have had their lives pulled out from under them.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls was an emotional read, difficult at times yet full of hope. It's a story of how our lives can be affected just as much by things unsaid as they are by things that are said. It's also a story about how the people we need the most can also be the people who cause us pain, sometimes inadvertently. And it's also a story about how important it is to have people in our corner, and sometimes those people are not whom we're expecting.

Reading this book, it was often hard to believe that this was Anissa Gray's debut novel, because the storytelling was so self-assured. Many of the characters were so rich and complex, and Gray slowly peeled back their layers so it almost felt as if you were getting to know them in real life. Strangely, however, Proctor and Althea remained a bit of an enigma to me, so even though they were at the center of the book, they never felt like fully formed characters, and I didn't understand what made them do what they did.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls is definitely one of those books you'll think about long after you've finished reading it. It's the arrival of an incredible literary talent, and I look forward to following Gray's career.

NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group provided me a copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.
Profile Image for Katie B.
1,294 reviews2,962 followers
September 17, 2018
Wow, even though I have read a ton of books on complicated family relationships, this one was just on a different level. Really impressive debut novel.

When married couple Althea and Proctor are arrested, the town is outraged that the two,once widely respected, could violate their trust. Althea's sisters, Viola and Lillian, are forced to come to grips with what happened and care for the couple's teenage daughters.

I'm so utterly fascinated by this book, I am still thinking about it days later. I had to read it in bits and pieces not because I didn't like the story, but it is so full of hurt, resentment, pain, etc., that I would need to put it down for awhile and just absorb it all before continuing.

To me what makes this book unique compared to other books on family dynamics is the story unfolded naturally, it didn't feel like there was a rush to have so many things happen one after another. Even though the book had strong character development in a way I still felt like there was more to learn about each person and some questions remained a bit unanswered. And I love that because why do books always have to wrap up everything all nice and neat when life just isn't like that. This is the strength of the novel, it is a realistic portrayal of a family struggling with how the past has defined who they are today.

Highly recommend as the author has managed to come up with something that feels fresh and new in the genre.

Thank you to Berkley for sending me an advance copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.

Profile Image for Brandice.
857 reviews
November 20, 2018
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls is a story of Family - Family drama and family secrets.

The Butler family consisted of 2 parents and 4 children, 3 daughters: Althea, Viola and Lillian, and one son, Joe. Their mother dies when they are still young, and their father is often out on the road, preaching.

Fast forward to now: The siblings are adults. Althea finds herself in jail, as is her husband, Proctor. Lillian has been entrusted with the care of their 2 teenage daughters, Baby V and Kim. Viola lives in Chicago but returns to Michigan to help out. Joe is nearby but not a central character.

The story is told in alternative POVs between Althea, Viola and Lillian. It’s no secret that nobody is perfect but things aren’t easy for anyone in this story - There’s a lot of tension, hurt, and resentment in this family.

I felt like the story was a little slow initially yet I was drawn in. I enjoyed watching the family dynamic unfold through 3 different perspectives. Lillian was my favorite of the 3 sisters; Althea was a bit tougher for me to like. Poor choices often result in unpleasant consequences so I didn’t have a ton of sympathy in that regard. For the most part though, I could understand each of the sisters’ POVs.

This book has been described as The Mothers meets An American Marriage, two books I really enjoyed reading earlier this year. Some plot elements were similar to these stories, but I didn’t feel like The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls was duplicative of them, or not unique enough on its own.

Thank you to Berkley Publishing for providing an ARC of this book.
Profile Image for Liz.
2,024 reviews2,530 followers
January 30, 2019

This book took awhile for my brain to wrap around the story. As is so often the case these days, you are just given glimpses of a plot, told from multiple perspectives. Althea and her husband, Proctor, have just been convicted of embezzlement from a charity they ran and are being sentenced to prison. Her two sisters and her twins are all grappling with what has happened. The book takes you through how their crime causes problems for the entire family. A ripple effect personified. It also shows how the siblings’ childhood left scars on each of them and created the damaged adults they have become.

What’s interesting is that there’s no question that Althea and Procter are guilty. That said, they are still sympathetic characters.

Gray fleshed out each of these characters. This book is primarily character, as opposed to action, driven. There’s lots about guilt, forgiveness and healing.

The writing is wonderful. Devote the time and energy to become invested in this story and you will be rewarded.

My thanks to netgalley and Berkeley for an advance copy of this book.

Profile Image for PorshaJo.
453 reviews660 followers
November 28, 2018
Rating 4.5

I got an email one day asking if I was interested in reading this new book. I never heard of the author or the book. But they teased me….saying it’s like Tayari Jones (a recent find of an author who is becoming a favorite). I immediately jumped at the offer to read it. When it arrived, I figured I would throw it on the pile of books to eventually get to it. But I opened it and read the first few lines and I was hooked.

Ultimately, this story is about family and the relationships between family members. There was a family of small children, Althea, Joe, Violet, and Lillian. Their mother dies when they are very young and their father is absent most of the time. It’s not the best of homelife for these kids, there is a lot of violence around them. Althea, all of 12, is now to take care of her siblings. She eventually leaves home and marries Protor, a local boy. She takes all of the children with her and raises them. But one day, the father returns and wants only Lillian. Fast forward many years later, Protor and Althea have their own family, two girls, Kim and Baby Vi. But due to some bad choices, end up in jail. Now the tables are reversed and Lillian is chosen to take care of and raise Althea’s children. But the story is truly about how this has affected each and every one of them. Some horrible things happened to these children when they were small, things that they carry for the rest of their lives. And perhaps without even knowing, begin to do the same to others. You can see what the past has done to these children, made them love, made them hate, made them afraid, made them jealous. Althea seemed to be her mother’s favorite. And she is turn made it known Violet was her favorite. After Althea had kids, that same pattern continued with her children. Probably not knowing how this impacted all of the other family members and their relationships. In the end, you see how each of these people is able to grow stronger...probably through the help of family.

What a powerful, moving story. What I truly liked about this one is not a lot happened, it was character driven story. The story rotated between the voices of Althea, Violet, and Lillian with letters from Proctor to Althea. Through this, you get the entire story of the family and how they ended up the way they are. The story slowing unfolds. You see the family on a path to being better and understanding their issues.

This is the author, Anissa Gray’s, first book. I did think it was like Tayari Jone’s book as they too don’t have a lot going on but really get into a character driven story. I can’t wait to see what Ms. Gray gives us next. Thanks to Berkley Publishing Group for providing me an advanced copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. I just so glad they reached out to me, otherwise, I would not have known about this wonderful, gem of a book. And it was hard...but I passed on my copy to someone else to enjoy this amazing story. Figured it’s kind of a book pay it forward thing.
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12.2k followers
March 26, 2019
Extraordinary, powerful & moving!

THE CARE AND FEEDING OF RAVENOUSLY HUNGRY GIRLS by ANISSA GRAY is an absolutely fabulous, raw, heartfelt and moving novel that immediately grabbed my attention with that extremely intriguing opening line. The writing style hooked me immediately, the storyline was completely absorbing, and the characters were out-and-out fascinating.

ANISSA GRAY delivers an impressive, interesting and beautifully written read here that is told in alternating perspectives between three sisters, Althea, Viola and Lillian with letters interspersed from Proctor to Althea. The author does such a wonderful job portraying the complicated familial dynamics really allowing us to feel and see right into each of their struggles. I couldn’t help but feel strong emotions for each of these sisters stories and was definitely hoping that they would all find the strength and love they needed.

Expected Publishing Date: February 19/19

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Eye-catching, dazzling, intriguing, beautiful and an extremely meaningful representation to storyline.
Title: I think this is one of the most intriguing, clever and creative titles I have come across yet. That title and cover definitely enticed me into needing to read this novel!
Writing/Prose: Well-written, effortless, genuine, beautiful, and skillful.
Plot: Engrossing, interesting, absorbing, heartfelt, steady-paced, and entertaining.
Ending: I was completely satisfied in the way that this novel wrapped up.
Overall: This was an incredibly powerful and impressive story that kept me turning those pages rather quickly in order to find out the fate of Althea and Proctor’s twin daughters. I would highly recommend!

Thank you so much to Elisha at Berkley Publishing Group and to Anissa Gray for the opportunity to read an advance reading copy of this novel. It was an absolute pleasure reading this extremely impressive debut novel.

Review can also be found on our blog:
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,743 reviews2,268 followers
December 2, 2018
” There's no mercy in a live wire
No rest at all in freedom
Of the choices we are given
Ain’t no choice at all.

“The proof is in the fire
You touch before it moves away
But you must always know how long to stay
And when to go.”

-- ”Let Him Fly”Alisan Porter, Songwriters: Griffin, Patricia J

”Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off…”- Ezekiel 37:11

A remarkably powerful, compelling debut about confronting a past that is dark and broken, a family that bears the scars of the past, and how those scars now shape and colour their days.

The Butler children – Lillian, Joe, Althea and Viola – lost their mother when they were young. Their father was a preacher and would travel in the course of his work, gone for extended periods of time. Althea, at the age of 12 was the oldest, and therefore left in charge of running the house and tending her younger siblings, with some help from her friend Proctor, a boy who would eventually become her husband. No one looked after Althea, with such a huge weight now on her shoulders, what time or energy could be left for her to properly grieve her loss – not just of her mother, which was monumental enough, but of her loss of what had been left of her more carefree years?

As this story begins to unfold, Althea and Proctor are married, middle-aged and no longer living at home with Viola, Joe and Lillian, or even with their twin daughters, now teenagers themselves, Kim and Baby Vi. Althea and Proctor are both sitting in jail on charges of committing fraud, awaiting sentencing for stealing from the members of their community in the small town where they lived in Michigan. The twins are now living with Lillian and Viola, struggling with the anger they feel aimed at them because of what their parents had done.

Trying to find a way out of the increasing anger they feel all around them, trying to gather the strength needed for a way onward, away from this proves to be difficult and demanding, requiring more endurance than they seem to have. Even then they are pushed just a little bit more by the messages tagged on walls, the dirty looks from their neighbors, and their changed circumstances. The tension escalates, and secrets hidden for so long come to the surface.

There’s so much family dysfunction in this that you can’t avoid seeing how one generation’s issues affect the next, and yet even within that, each person takes in that chaos and dysfunction and channels it into something different from their parent, from their sibling, as is shown with Viola – who knows better, but still finds herself binge eating junk food only to purge after, and Althea, who knows she can’t control the voices in her head, voices that remind her of her worst faults until she feels unworthy of any love or kindness.

I loved this, this family who struggles through this life they find themselves suddenly thrust into, this family grabbed hold of my heart from the first pages and didn’t let go. I could feel each of their sorrows, and even feel the weight of the history behind those sorrows. I love it when an author can pull me so completely into the pages that I can see and hear and feel it all, get lost in the words, and that is what Anissa Gray’s story gave me.

”’One river for each of my girls,’ is what my mama said after Viola was born. The Saint Joseph for me and the Portage, its tributary, for Viola. Me and Viola, we’re always supposed to run together. And Mama told me, ‘You girls, us women, we’re water.’ Strong stuff.”

“The angel shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal…and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life.” -Revelations 22:1

Pub Date: 19 FEB 2019

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Berkeley Publishing Group, and especially to Elisha, who always sends me the best books!
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,125 reviews30.3k followers
January 14, 2020
An emotional family story.
In the opening scene of The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, Althea, the female head of her family, is in jail and awaiting a trial. We quickly learn some backstory on the Butler family. Althea is the oldest of her siblings, and when her mother passes away, she’s in charge of everyone else.

Althea later marries Proctor, a man she met at her mother’s funeral when they were both young children. Althea and Proctor are charming, vital members of their local community, owning their own restaurant and giving back to the community.

One day, seemingly out of the blue, Proctor and Althea, now parents to twin daughters, are arrested at their business. The worst part? They are charged with stealing from their local community members.

With Althea in prison, her sisters, Viola and Lillian, now step in to help her with raising her teenage daughters.

Who is at the center of the drama as it unravels this family? There are real issues addressed, including eating disorders and addiction, layers of pain, heartache, and scars.

I connected to Althea from the start. When she described her experience in prison, I felt like I was right along side her experiencing the same things.

The story is told through Althea, Viola, and Lillian’s narrations, which offers a unique perspective on the goings on in this family. The Butlers seem to be in a downward spiral, and I wanted something to happen to right them again, to make it all stop and glue them back together. I was invested in their outcomes.

Overall, The Care and Feeding is an insightful and original perspective on complex family dynamics and hope for second chances.

I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
703 reviews3,277 followers
April 13, 2019
DNF at 30% (page 89). This book lacks teeth; it has no bite. It alternates between the first-person perspective of three sisters who are reflecting on one sister’s incarceration and how the entire family has been affected by her imprisonment, but all three voices are so similar they eventually blur. In the absence of intrigue, or surprising dialogue, or a nuanced exploration of deep-seeded emotions, or some sense that these characters are yearning or lacking or longing or something there’s just nothing here to keep the pages turning.

I’m grateful to the kind people at Berkeley Publishing for sending me a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Terrie  Robinson.
397 reviews585 followers
April 23, 2023
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray is a Compelling Debut Novel!

The Butler Family has had more than their fair share of challenges over the years and the current crisis feels like one of the worst.

Sisters Althea, Lillian, and Viola lost their mother suddenly when they were young and, with an abusive preacher father who was out tending to his congregation rather than to his family, it became eldest daughter Althea's responsibility to take care for her siblings. She's held the role of family matriarch ever since.

For years, Althea and her husband Proctor have been reputable business owners in their community until the day of their unexpected arrest. Althea's siblings are in shock as the family goes from respected and loved to disgraced and despised in the blink of an eye.

The family needs to regroup to support Althea's and Proctor's teenage twin daughters, Kim and Baby Vi, who are also struggling through the full impact of this family quagmire...

I read an early copy of this author's sophomore novel Life and Other Love Songs and loved it and knew I needed to read this one, too. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls is her debut novel about another family that's just as compelling and heartbreaking, yet so different, proving that each family has their own unique story.

In The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls the author writes about the pieces, parts, and challenges within the complicated Butler Family. She exposes each character's pain and struggle through first person narrations of each of the three sisters. This method presents a well-balanced backstory and well-rounded perspective of the past and present to the reader. I appreciate this intimate window into each of the sisters.

I chose the audiobook format for this story which has four narrators: January LaVoy, Adenrele Ojo, Bahni Turpin, and Dominic Hoffman. The blend of their professional voicing skills resulted in a great listening experience for me and I highly recommend it as the best format for this story.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls has sealed it for me: I love this author's writing style and storytelling. She knows, understands, and loves her characters and it shows through in both of her books. I'm excited to see what's next from Ms. Gray and I'll be waiting.

I highly recommend this story to all who love well-written, character-driven storytelling about messed up families. My favorite kind!

4.75 Beautiful Debut Stars rounded up!
Profile Image for JanB .
1,144 reviews2,513 followers
March 11, 2019
The pain runs deep and the repercussions of childhood trauma ripples down through the generations.

When Althea and Proctor, two upstanding citizens who run a local business, are arrested and imprisoned for a white-collar crime, Althea's sisters and extended family must step in to parent their daughters. This crisis brings forth a lot of buried secrets, resentments, and pain.

The past has left scars that damaged each of them in ways that are expressed differently. For Althea and her siblings, the unfilled needs of childhood left a hunger and an empty place in their souls that led to destructive behaviors.

Told in alternating perspectives, this is the story of a family mired in pain, resentment, and grief. The crisis has brought it all bubbling to the surface. How this family struggles with the current crisis and the demons of the past makes for an emotional read. Will they be able to heal the wounds of the past and stop the cycle?

It’s not the happiest of books to read, but it’s a book that left me pondering these characters long after I closed the last page. It's an amazing debut recommended for fans of character-driven stories that centers on serious issues and dysfunction.

*I received a copy of the book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
2,019 reviews15.7k followers
January 18, 2020
Wow! This book was thick with dysfunction, grief, guilt, and love!

When I finish this book I did not know what to think, I was emotionally exhausted and I needed to let this book simmer for a while. I needed to process the pain and the emotion I had just experienced. Anissa Gray has written one heck of a dark evocative and emotional debut! This book was so real, so raw, so uncomfortable, and yet so exquisite! It was a book I needed to take a few steps away from to truly appreciate, I needed to separate myself from these characters to find the true beauty in these words.

The Butler family truly brings dysfunction to new heights. Every time I turned a page in this book I was drawn further into this family’s misfortune and pain. Not going to lie the darkness was a bit overwhelming for me at times and I think that is why I needed this book to sit with me before I could truly appreciate it. This is the story of sisters Althea, viola, and Lillian. Althea who became the matriarch of the family after the sister’s mother passed is in trouble. Althea and her husband Proctor have been found guilty of embezzlement a crime that the sisters and the entire community are shocked by. Viola and Lillian rally to take care of Altheas twin girls Kim and baby Vi. This was one complicated story with multiple layers and many secrets. A Family broken trying to come together and pick up the pieces.

All these characters were flawed and not necessarily likable, but they sure were real. Althea was very difficult for me to understand as a mother, but I did like how as the story went along we got to see a softer side of her (sort of). Lillian and viola were really so full of love and yet so broken. During the course of the story they really found their strength and voice, it gave me hope for a better healthier future for these ladies. Their brother Joe on the other hand...

A powerful debut packed with emotion sorrow and hope! Absolutely recommend!

🎵🎵🎵 Song Running Through My Head

Seems like it was yesterday when I saw your face
You told me how proud you were, but I walked away
If only I knew what I know today
Ooh, ooh
I would hold you in my arms
I would take the pain away
Thank you for all you've done
Forgive all your mistakes
There's nothing I wouldn't do
To hear your voice again
Sometimes I wanna call you
But I know you won't be there
Ohh I'm sorry for blaming you
For everything I just couldn't do
And I've hurt myself by hurting you
Some days I feel broke inside but I won't admit
Sometimes I just wanna hide 'cause it's you I miss
And it's so hard to say goodbye
When it comes to this
Would you tell me I was wrong?
Would you help understand?
Are you looking down upon me?
Are you proud of who I am?
There's nothing I wouldn't do
To have…


*** many thanks to Berkley for my copy of this book ***
Profile Image for Kendall.
638 reviews642 followers
February 20, 2019
Happy pub day to this beautiful book :)

Anissa Gray brilliantly captures the true meaning of family. The darkness, the light, and what encompasses the bind as a family.

I truly was left a mess after finishing this book and was completely wowed by Anissa's talent as a writer. A remarkable, powerful, and hauntingly emotional debut about confronting a past that is dark, broken, and fragile.

The Butler's live in a world of dsyfunctionality to its core. Athlea, Proctor, Viola, Baby Vi, and Kim are struggling to survive the tragedy brought upon their family. As a reader, you feel the power, resistance, love, pain, and angst for this family. My goodness.... was I so rooting for this family and at times had so much anxiety for them.

This is one debut novel that is not to be missed my friends! This is definitely going to be a novel that is brightly shown on my book shelf!

Powerful, raw, beautiful, and inspiring!!!

5 stars!!!

Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for the advanced arc in exchange for an honest review.

Publication date: 2/19/19
Published to Goodreads: 2/4/19
Profile Image for Debbie.
441 reviews2,787 followers
April 23, 2019
3.5--oh how I wish I could get out of mediocre-ville!

I’m a ravenously hungry girl looking for a 5-star fancy feast. (My new cat’s favorite meal.) No luck; it’s just potatoes. A totally decent read, just not scrumptious.

The story is about what happens after a couple, Althea and Proctor, go to prison for fraud. Althea’s two sisters help with the couple’s two daughters. There’s drama all over the place as we hear about everyone’s childhoods and how the family members interact with each other, with a lot of focus on the teenage daughter, Kim. The characters aren’t perfect and communication isn’t so hot—the top two ingredients for delicious dysfunction. The only thing is, the story just didn’t grab me. It was fine—oh yes, it was a fine read—just nothing special.

Joy Jar

-Overall, well-written.
-Well-drawn characters.
-Interesting relationships.
-Quick read.

Complaint Board

-Just another dysfunctional family. First, the title. Although I think it’s a super cool title, I don’t see how it matches the story AT ALL. Based on the title, I thought the book was going to be quirky chick lit, ala Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants—which in fact made me a little worried because quirky giggly girls can get on my nerves bigtime. So I was happy to see it was just another story about a dysfunctional family. The book takes itself seriously, probably too seriously, so a teensy bit of quirk or levity would have been nice.

-And while I’m all title-chatty— Let me say that I continue to be sick to death of all these titles with “girl” in it. Titles with “child,” “sister,” “mother,” and “wife” are giving the “girl” titles a run for their money, and they are equally infuriating. But really, I must remember that they’re just titles; it’s the meat that counts. Which leads me back to my beginning point—this meat ain’t no fancy feast.

-No more sullen teenagers, please! I think it might be the third book I’ve read this year that stars an angsty teenage girl. Enough already! They are so annoying! I’m going to have to scour the blurbs to make sure all the main characters in my TBR pile can legally drink. The teen in this book is a humdinger.

-And no church and bible stuff, please! It appeared in several chapters toward the end. I have zero tolerance for church talk.

-Speak right! Once one of the characters, Voila, said something like “She don’t think much about it.” She’s sophisticated and well-educated; it doesn’t make sense that she would make such a glaring grammatical mistake. Maybe it was a typo that was fixed before the book was published.

-People seldom talk philosophically. Occasionally, there was some philosophical talk happening. I found myself saying “People don’t really talk that way!”

-I don’t believe that! Not sure I buy that the parents would have committed the crime they did, given that they are super upstanding. Also not sure I buy what the teen did at the beginning (purposely being vague here).

-Where are her mom genes? Disliked one of the main characters, Althea—the one who goes to jail. She was cold and seemed to be missing the mom gene, at least when it came to her teenage daughter. And she didn’t seem to feel bad about the crime she committed, even though it hurt lots of people. I couldn’t find any redeeming characteristics. I don’t need to like all the characters, but I really didn’t want to be around Althea. I know I was supposed to feel sorry for her because of her childhood, but I didn’t really care how tough she had had it.

-Lifetime movie ending. El drag-o.

-Huh? Why tell us about grandma at the end? A bigger complaint about the ending: Suddenly we’re hearing about what happened to this super minor character, a grandmother. I wasn’t interested in her earlier, and certainly wasn’t interested in hearing about her at the end.

But despite all my complaints, it was an okay read. Actually, when I started it, I was thinking it was a high 4. The language was good and the relationships were interesting, so I was instantly pulled in. The blurb compared it to An American Marriage (which I loved), so I had high hopes. Soon, though, the story got boring and my rating fizzled down to a 3. The melodrama with the teenager added some much needed spice toward the end, but it couldn’t save the book from mediocre-ville.

One last thing: The most interesting and well-drawn character is Viola, one of the three sisters. She’s a bulimic gay woman. I read that the author is a bulimic gay woman. (Also learned that her father was a pastor, which explains the church talk.) I liked knowing that the author is speaking from the heart. The scenes dealing with the eating disorder are the strongest scenes in the book—the most real, the most haunting.

Thanks to Edelweiss for the advance copy.
Profile Image for Tammy.
512 reviews431 followers
December 4, 2018
The incarceration of a respected husband and wife leaves them in disgrace and their two daughters in the care of the wife’s sisters. This family is, indeed, starving but not in the literal sense. Some are starving for forgiveness. Others are starving for the feeling of belonging. There are physical absences, instances of Intermittent Explosion Disorder and driven ambitions that lead to bulimia, overeating and other ritualistic behaviors that provide comfort to the afflicted. This is an intimate portrayal of a family in crisis.
Profile Image for Christine on hiatus, see “About me”.
589 reviews1,140 followers
June 16, 2019
First of all, A+ for the fantastic title and bookcover! Props to whoever is responsible for these.

This is a very good book, especially for a debut novel. I was intrigued to see author Anissa Gray’s biography. She is an award-winning journalist, first with Reuters; and now as a writer, editor, and producer with CNN. She has very impressive credentials. I give her kudos for trying her hand at fiction. After reading her Acknowledgments, it appears that she has incorporated parts of herself into the story. Write what you know about is what they say, right? I always appreciate it when an author uses his or her own life experiences to enrich a story.

This is a sad, yet hopeful tale about a family of three African American adult sisters, 1 brother, a husband and two daughters, plus a Chinese step grandmother-in-law. Life has not been easy for any of these people, and it shows. What we have is a several-month slice of this family’s life starting with the fraud convictions of one of the sisters and her husband, who are parents of the two daughters. The story is told from three points of views - those of the sisters.

I found the story to be rich and insightful. The author has done her research to keep things real. There is much emotion, heartbreak, and loss. But there is also understanding, knowing when to cut losses, and efforts towards reconciliation. Then there are the things that “just are.” There is no big red bow here, but the story does contain an element of promise and movement toward better lives.

I withheld one star from my rating as I did not connect with the characters as much as I wanted to. I think I was most intrigued by one of the side characters Mercedes. I wish there had been more insight into the thoughts of the two daughters, but there are a lot of central characters, and not all of them could be highlighted.

The writing is excellent, and the storyline itself is powerful. Again, this is a debut novel from this author. I see her improving with each effort, and I will certainly be interested in checking out her next novel. I do recommend this book for those looking for a family story with depth.

Thanks to the Rochester Public Library and the Libby app for lending me a copy of this book.
Profile Image for Jen CAN.
487 reviews1,360 followers
March 23, 2019
Sisters, mothers, relationship struggles. When the eldest sister is imprisoned, the family disintegrates. There is blaming and forgiving, redemption and healing.

Good writing but overall, for me, this was just an ok read. Also, I think the title is too long!
3.5 ⭐️
Profile Image for Holly  B (Short break!).
814 reviews1,870 followers
February 22, 2019
Between 3.5 and 4 Stars

A debut novel that highlights family relationships and the how the past affects the future.

There is a lot going on in this family and there are quite a few characters, so it took a bit for me to get everyone sorted. We learn that the Butler children had a rough rode to travel growing up, but they must face even more tough times as Althea and Proctor commit a crime and are sent to jail. Althea is the eldest, the one who raised her siblings, she now needs help with her own two teenage daughters. Her two sisters step up to help out.

Alternating chapters give us the point of views from the three sisters, Althea, Viola, and Lillian. It seemed that each sister had a different “hunger” that needed to be dealt with after the loss of their parents and the dysfunction they grew up with. They all seemed to be trying to find their way out of the past to get a fresh start. The characters are flawed, realistic and compelling.

Lots of obstacles stand in their way, as they come together to survive the latest trial that brings so much scrutiny and pressure to them all. They handle it in their own way – the past and the present.

Themes of guilt, love and forgiveness made this a powerful, emotional story that had a profound sadness about it.

Recommend to fans of family drama

Thanks to the publisher for my early copy to review. Out February 19, 2019
December 1, 2018
3.5 stars.

Raw. Emotional. Insightful. Heart-breaking. Hopeful.

Hard working and highly respected local restaurant owners, Althea and Proctor, stun their community when they are arrested and jailed for crimes unknown to their small town. Althea’s sisters, Viola and Lillian, are left to pick up the pieces for Althea and Proctor’s children, Baby V and Kim, who are ‘orphaned’ and left feeling lost in life.

This is a deeply affecting novel that had me feeling the strong sense of sadness that haunted each of the character’s lives. The author, Anissa Gray, did a fantastic job pulling me into this complicated family’s struggles and relationship dynamics. I was rooting for these characters.

I enjoyed the writing and characters, however, the storyline itself felt overly heavy and dark at times. I couldn’t shake the deep sense of sadness that overshadowed my reading journey with this family. There was a sense of hope throughout, but there were many obstacles and struggles these characters had to overcome to reach that light. There were also a few sections where my attention wavered and the story felt slow. Overall, it was a debut novel that I enjoyed and I look forward to reading more from this author.

This was a Traveling Sister read that lead to very interesting discussion. This review will be posted on our blog closer to publication date.


A big thank you to Elisha at Berkley for providing me with a physical ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Expected Date of Publication: February 19, 2019.
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