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Family Pictures

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  4,904 ratings  ·  147 reviews
Spanning forty years, Family Pictures follows the conflict between husband and wife, over a beautiful autistic child. Randall is both angel and demon. His father, David, a coolly rational psychiatrist, wants him placed in an institution; his mother, Lainey, insists on keeping him at home. Yet it is not just David and Lainey who are struggling to come to terms with a ...more
Hardcover, First Edition
Published 1990 by Harper & Row
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  4,904 ratings  ·  147 reviews

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Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
This should have been a better book than it was. The story is centered on a family with an autistic son, and how the presence of this son shapes the family and each of its members. Unfortunately, all the family members are pretty unlikable and it is very hard to care about what happens to them. The mother and father are particularly unpleasant - very self-absorbed while believing they are selflessly dedicated to their kids. All of the characters seem to float in their own little bubbles of ...more
Aug 25, 2011 rated it liked it
I like Sue Miller, but this is not her best work. She is a fabulous writer, and that really shines through in some sections of the book. The shifting narration does not always work (though when it does, it's quite good). I was left feeling that the character motivations were missing here - so I never knew why anyone did the things they did, and therefore never really connected with them in any meaningful way. (Although, the last chapter goes a teeny way toward ameliorating this - but it's too ...more
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Absorbing story of a semi-dysfunctional but loving family set in the 60's- and 70's. Several points of view bring different facets of this story to light. Sue Miller's style is a bit more flowery and metaphor-filled than I prefer, but her gift of narrative shines.
Katie Kenig
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
But that's the way it is in a family, isn't it? The stories get passed around, polished, embellished. Liddie's version or Mack's version changes as it becomes my version. And when I tell them, it's not just that the events are different but that they all mean something different too. Something I want them to mean. Or need them to. And of course, there's also the factor of time. Of how your perspective, your way of telling the story - of seeing it - changes as time passes. As you change.

In the
May 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
I loved The Good Mother and especially While I Was Gone, both by Sue Miller. I did not love this one as much and I have been trying to understand why.

The story is about a family more than about an individual. Yes, there is a main character - Nina - but her life is surrounded by the lives of her parents and siblings, and several chapters are from these other points of view. For a while I wondered if we'd ever get back to Nina, because I missed her.

The controlling force in the story is Nina's
Heather Muzik
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes I can be slow to digest a book, slow to come to terms with my feelings about it. In this case, when I finished Miller's book back in 2012, I unequivocally gave it four stars—there was no question that I was drawn in by her story and intrigued by the family dynamic she portrayed. I didn't care for several of the characters, although I appreciated their characterizations, for they were true and bold and agonizingly real to me. But it is only after all these months have passed and so many ...more
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Technically a 4.5-star rating. So touching and beautifully written, with a searingly insightful understanding of the family dynamic, the pain and beauty at its core that shapes who are. It was so dead-on with its portrayal of the impact fraught family relationships have on all of us. I'm withholding the last half star only because I wasn't quite fully satisfied with the ending, and didn't understand how/why it would be Nina's chosen ending.

Miller writes like a better, kinder version of Jonathan
Nov 13, 2011 rated it liked it
This is the first of Sue Miller's books that I've read. It was a good book but it fell short of a full five stars for me.

It was a very real picture of a family broken by mental illness. I applaud Miller for her extremely believable portrait of the Eberhardt family which being torn apart by a child with autism. The family struggles through accusations from other each other, failing marriages, disruptive children, war, and so on. Based on how Miller describes these events in the lives of the
Feb 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
I quit reading this book; just couldn't get into it. Too sad. Maybe I just couldn't handle the sadness, otherwise I think the writing was good. Interesting descriptions, etc. But I kept feeling like I just didn't want to pick it up and continue.
Jan 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Another family story -- a strong and confident family in 1948 of mother (slightly eccentric), father (sarcastic, always cool-tempered), a boy, a girl. Then the third child is born, severely disabled. The family spends the next 40 years trying to survive upheaval, heartbreak, pain. Summary: "Everyone around here's under a lot of strain right now. No one has a lot of resilience. The edges are frayed." This was painful to read. I kept thinking that there had to be a better way to deal with the ...more
May 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: drama, family
This was a pretty decent read. My only one gripe is the amount of characters. There were too many siblings and they felt extraneous, especially since the focus of the novel was on Nina, Mack, Randall and their parents. Liddie, Sarah and Mary felt out of place in the narrative and had no real job to do, other than to just kind of clutter the plot.

It also felt at times like the plot lacked focus and kind of wandered around. The last few chapters were on the blah side, despite there being a major
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Sue Miller gives us reminder of how bad some psychological theories were in the 1950s and how they could ruin a family, especially regarding children on the autism spectrum. She really portrayed the ramifications of how an autistic child can affect the family. That being said, it is a long slow book and took me awhile to get into it.
Hank Stuever
Aug 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fine novel about a family with an autistic child (I think I'm remembering that correctly; it's been 23 years), from the author of "Inventing the Abbots" and "The Good Mother." Very popular reading in the late '80s, early '90s for people in search of a middle ground between literary and fluff.
Lynne Sloan
Apr 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
You will think this is the story of YOUR family life.
Nov 07, 2018 rated it liked it
A complicated family of six children, the third on is autistic. Slow read for me.

Very well written. I'm not sure I'd recommend it.
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Didn't finish anybody's stories, except Randall.
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this book, having bought it second hand on a complete whim. This is the first work I've read by Miller and her writing style and skill intrigued me; i'm likely to explore her better-received novels in the future.
As for the story itself, it was tiring yet rewarding to read. There are many events packed into a full 400 or so pages. I felt especially good about the discussion of family trauma and seeing how it affected each of the kids in the family throughout their lives. This is one of
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a story about a semi-dysfunctional but loving family. I really enjoyed this book. I like how this book is more character-driven than a plot-driven novel. It's about a family drama and it plays out the childhood, teenage years, and young adulthood of the children in the family. It explores what our place in the family does to us as part of our development. It probes into our own expectations of our siblings and parents. This book can get a little boring in some places, but I still enjoyed ...more
Sep 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
I really disliked this book. David had no redeeming qualities and I couldn’t root for him at any point in the story. Everyone was so damaged and never overcomes their circumstances. The sexual tension between family members was confusing, and left me constantly tensed that something was going to happen between them. Overall I found it very depressing.
Jun 01, 2019 rated it liked it
This book had a lot of atmosphere; this reader felt like she was growing up in the 60s with this family. The family had dysfunction, but not abuse; most of the conflict centered around the parents disagreeing on how to raise their autistic child, which was interesting to me. However, I had trouble following the back-and-forth leaps in time in this novel. Also, perspective changes are abrupt, and did nothing to move the story along at a good pace.
Karen Wilczopolski
Sep 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I just couldn’t connect with the characters. No one seemed completely “finished”. It was scattered and I can’t tell whose perspective it was actually about, until the last chapter or so. I kept hoping for that breakthrough moment but it never came.
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As long as it took me to get going, in the end I wished the book wouldn't end soon.
It rang true more than once.
And what an end.
Life surprises us, always.
Gloria Mccracken
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well written but full of angst.
Georgie Alef
Jul 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Entertaining but easy read
Ellen Brenner
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
I struggled w this one. Just couldn't get a groove with it.
Heather Stevens
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
The story was good, but sometimes disjointed. I had to look back at the chapters occasionally to help remember where in the timeline we were.
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Re: Autism. Audiobook performed by Pam Dauber
Sal Bo
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have read this book a few times, and enjoy it each time. A large family with an autistic son, and how they cope. Good read.
Aug 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is gripping - spellbinding in parts, in fact. There were times I absolutely could not put it down. Miller has a way of bringing people and situations to life in such a way that even if you've never experienced what she's writing about, you can find something in it to relate to. She makes things real, and she's a very honest writer. As someone who has a disability, I can say in all honesty that Miller did her research. She truly understands how some families can be impacted by such an ...more
I didn't love this book, but I did like it. It was honest....but kind of depressing.

It is about a family: a loving husband and wife and their 6 children. Child #3 (Randall) was born with a mental illness, in which they would refer to him as being autistic...however I felt like it was much more than that. I could be wrong, just my opinion. It tells of their struggles from the time they found out that Randall has this illness, through the next 40 years. There were some good times, but not too
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Goodreads Librari...: Please add correct cover and page count 2 21 May 24, 2017 06:58AM  
500 Great Books B...: Family Pictures - Sue Miller 1 6 Jul 15, 2014 01:14PM  

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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Sue Miller is an American novelist and short story writer who has authored a number of best-selling novels. Her duties as a single mother left her with little time to write for many years, and as a result she did not publish her first novel until 1986, after spending almost