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3.17  ·  Rating details ·  529 ratings  ·  111 reviews
i have always been broken.
i could have. died.
and maybe it would have been better if i had.
It is a day like any other when seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen hits the road for San Francisco, leaving behind her fractured home life and a constant assault on her self-esteem. Henry is the handsome, charismatic man who comes upon her, collapsed on a park bench, and offers love, a brdied./>i
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by EgmontUSA (first published April 1st 2011)
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Mia No, Melinda leaves her family and becomes a part of the manson family cult.

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Average rating 3.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  529 ratings  ·  111 reviews

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Jun 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: pomes, why-yes-i-ya
dear book, WHY ARE YOU POETRY??

yeah, this one is all on me. some wise customer had abandoned this book on one of my shelves at the store, and as i was walking it over the the resort cart, i read the flap, and i said to myself, "teen fiction about charles manson?? from a manson girl's perspective?? sign me up!!"


it is not teen fiction about charles manson.
it is teen poetry about charles manson.

and even the most casual glance through the pages would have told me that. but i got ahead of myself. and that is what happened. who would write poetr
Apr 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
The dust jacket says this was "loosely" based on the Manson family murders, but if you've read Helter Skelter or versed yourself in the grim tale of the murders, as I have, then you know this is nearly identical in detail to that frightening patch of sixties history.

In family, teenaged Mel runs away from her absuive family--the stepfather who rapes her and the disconnected mother who turns a blind eye--and straight into the arms of the charimsatic "Henry," who encourages Mel to join his family of hi
May 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: age-ya, 2011
As someone who's read Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders, I was interested in the idea of a YA book "loosely based" on the Manson family. Seeing that it was written in poetry form made me pick this up, thinking it would be a quick read.

Mel has run away from home (and her sexually abusive "Uncle Jack") and is living on the streets in Haight-Ashbury when she meets "Henry" (aka Charles Manson). Henry feeds her and gives her drugs and has sex with her in his van for three days,
Me and this book did not get along. I was intrigued because it uses the Manson murders as a basis for the story. The main character, Mel, is one of Henry's girls (Henry is Charles Manson). Mel comes from a broken home, where she suffered sexual abuse at the hands of her mom's boyfriend, an "Uncle" Jack. She longs for a family, so naturally when Henry plucks her off of a dirty bench in San Francisco after Mel has run away from home, Mel goes to him very willingly. The book is told in verse and fi ...more
Please don't ask me why I read this book. I saw it on Goodreads and it looked like it had some potential and upon opening the book I saw that it was written in episodic verse which I thought was pretty cool and I also thought that it would be a quick and easy read, in which it was, but all-in-all it is just a book. Simply a book. I am not sure if I hated it or if I liked it. I know that I did not love it. The whole repetitiveness was just mind boggling and quite annoying at times.

Family is set
Several years ago I went to a performance of MacBeth at my alma mater, an all-women's college. The cast was composed entirely of women. As the director noted in the program, this was a deliberate choice, harking back to the Celtic matriarchal tradition, in which women used storytelling to pass on the culture's morals and values.

I imagine Family by Micol Ostow being read by a chorus of women for just such a purpose.

If you're younger than me, you may have read a book called Out Of The Dust, by Karen
Sep 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
So apparently this book was supposed to be about (or a fictional version) of the Manson family. But for several reasons I just didn't care about the main character. And maybe that was because she was supposed to be so lost that joining a cult made her soulless or something.....I couldn't bring myself to care about her background either.
Ronald Keeler
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
There are lots of reasons to read Family by Micol Ostow. One of them is not to see an accurate description or retelling of the infamous Manson murders. Yes, there is a quotation from Manson: “At my will, I walk your streets and am right out there among you.” (location 34). After the middle of the novel, the phrase “helter-skelter” appears frequently. There is no doubt what the basis for this “episodic verse” novel is. One reason to read the story is for those unfamiliar with the form; readers ca ...more
Dayna Smith
This is work of historical fiction in verse. It is a re-telling of the story of the Manson family and the murders they committed in California in 1969. The book follows an abused teenage runaway who flees to San Francisco and is picked up "Henry." Henry introduces her to his "family" living at an old ranch where Westerns used to be filmed. He manipulates everyone in the "family" and eventually sends four of them out to kill, to spread his message. The story loosely follows the real version, with ...more
Oct 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
It pains me to have to write this review because for so long I have pined after this book, and all I feel is let down. When I first heard that there was a YA novel about the Manson family murders, I was totally intrigues. I’ve read Helter Skelter many, many times, and I’ve watched countless documentaries on Manson himself, and his ‘family.’ I even have a favorite Manson girl:

These murders were vicio
Aug 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Intense and startling yet compelling, Micol Ostow’s Family is one of kind. It is dark and dreary yet that did not stop me from turning the pages in rapid speed, as this one book that you cannot put down once you have started it.

Melinda Jensen has never had an easy life. From a touchy “uncle” Jack to a mother who never cared enough, Melinda has had nearly no one to turn to in her past seventeen years of life. Lost beyond control, Melinda sets out to San Francisco with little to nothing, hoping t
Sep 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jade Gregerson
Melinda (Mel), is a teenager who was born into a broken family. Her father abuses her, and her mother knows- but does nothing to stop him. Mel runs away, and is found half-conscious on a park bench by a man who goes by the name Henry. After staying in his van for 3 days, he finally takes her to the ranch. There, she meets Shelly, Leila, Junior, and all the other “broken” people who stay there. Family. That’s what they are to her now. The only thing she wants is a family, a place to belong. Almos ...more
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Family by Micol Ostow
-This book was written for people who like creepy and scary books.
-I give this book 4 stars.
-I thought this book was really good, it kept me on my feet and it was super creepy. The main character Mel, got treated super bad growing up so she left her old family behind and was basically homeless until the handsome Henry found her on a city bus and offered her life, a family, and love. Something Mel has always wanted but never got. The only thing i would chang
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
noppppppe! I almost DNFed this book a few times, but I pushed through and finished it. I was so excited to have a book based on the Manson Family cult, since I love true crime and all that, but this was just not for me. I found the writing style a bit weird and it didn’t really flow for me. Also it felt a little repetitive with the MC just saying how mush she loved Henry so much. I just thought that you really didn’t get to see the ways that the cult manipulated its members. She just kind of go ...more
Dec 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya-fiction, 2011
One thing I loved about this book - it's a novel in verse that truly does sound like poetry (a rare quality, I've found!) The poetry is odd and confusing, but that makes sense considering the often drug-addled main character is narrating. Unfortunately, the poetry is also REALLY redundant and repetitive.
The main weakness, though, is the bland characters and setting and the utter lack of motivation. I didn't understand for one second why any of these people were following Henry (the cult leader)
Jun 28, 2016 rated it liked it
being in verse didn't seem to add to the story and it ended up being this book's downfall
May 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-true-crime
I can't really do a succinct review of why this book did not work, so we're going to do a random list:

1. It's written in verse
And sometimes not. Sometimes it is almost a normal set of prose in paragraph form, describing the location or a moment like this is a normal book, if very stream-of-consciousness.
but then
it gets
and repetitive
and says the word

2. Charles Manson is a musician first in this adaptatio
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Fast read.
VERY unique writing style.
Loosely based on Charles Manson and the Manson Family. It was interesting enough to make me look into the story of Charles Manson and his group that helped murder people in 1969.
As a person who finds people watching and others' motivations as fascinating as I do...I naturally read novels through that lens/perspective.
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Just not my favorite. It was kind of confusing at times the way it was written
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book is told in episodic verse and I had a lot of problems with the style of writing.
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting subject matter, but the writing was repetitive and the book could have been better if it was more condensed. The ending was refreshing and gained the book extra points.
Feb 23, 2014 rated it did not like it
Ugh. I have been looking forward to reading this book for so long, but I keep trying to resist buying books because I have so many to read already. But I gave in anyway.. and it was a terrible waste of money.

Where can I start... I didn't know much about the Manson family before I read it but the cult-type novels and trying to read in someone's else's screwed-up mind is always interesting to me soooooo... I bought it.

I did go and read more about the Mansons after finishing the n
Dec 26, 2011 rated it liked it
First and foremost, I am NOT sympathetic to the whole hippie subculture. Not in the slightest. They need to shower and get jobs, quite frankly. And develop an opinion that isn't based in LSD highs and commune thought process. So why did I opt to review a book that is exactly this mentality? Because it's pretty much a roman a clef of the Manson family and I thought it'd be an interesting fictionalization. It further solidified my disdain for hippie speak and mentality and it was interesting but I ...more
Mar 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs, 2011
Before reading family I hadn't been too familiar with the history of Charles Manson and his cult. I had a vague idea of what it was about, but by reading this it opened my eyes to the horrifying truth of what happened in 1969. This was a fictionalized version of the Manson Family murders, but it still had some basic similarities. family was written in verse, which I think worked purely because this novel relied so much on emotions and random thoughts. The characters were never fully developed an ...more
Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Unlike many of the other reviewers, I had no idea that family was about Charles Manson until I read the acknowledgments. For years, I confused Marilyn Manson and Charles Manson, and when I finally worked out which was which, I only knew that Charles was a murderer. I knew no details and didn't even know that he led a cult, and all of the information I now know about him came from the Wikipedia articles I furtively read after finishing the book.

I never purchased the book, rather reading the
Book Sp(l)ot
Nov 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Micol Ostow's family is loosely based on the Manson Family murders (and Charles Manson's cult) of 1969. family's main character (and narrator) is seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen a girl who's run away to escape abuse when she meets Henry (the stand-in for Manson). Told in free verse poetry, familychooses to examine Mel's past as well as her introduction to and life in Henry's 'family.'

The 'family' lives together, sleeps together, eats together and shares everything. They gather food
Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books)
3.5 stars

Family is one of the most disturbing and terrifying, yet oddly captivating, books that I have ever read. As someone who only knows the barest facts about the Manson family murders, Micol Ostow’s take on 17 year old Mel’s descent into cult life is haunting and creepy. We get to see her slowly, but surely lose herself to this notion of family; which is ludicrous and all kinds of messed up, but for someone who has come from so little and so much pain, it makes sense to Mel. ...more
I don't understand Ostow's choices with this book. Why write a book closely based on the Manson Family and change almost nothing? The book is marketed based on the relationship, so it's not like Ostow was trying to hide it in the slightest. Is it because she thought it would be in poor taste to write a novel in verse directly about the murders? If so, it's hardly less so because she changed the names. Did she want to write a slightly more uplifting ending? Because that's the only thing of substa ...more
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Micol Ostow has been writing professionally since 2004, and in that time has written and/or ghostwritten over 40 published works for young readers. She started her reign of terror with Egmont with her novel FAMILY, which Elizabeth Burns named a favorite of 2012 on her School Library Journal-syndicated blog, A Chair, a Fireplace, a Tea Cozy. Micol's graphic novel, SO PUNK ROCK (and Other Ways to Di ...more
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