David Caldwell's Reviews > The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac

The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac by Kris D'Agostino
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's review
Mar 05, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: won-it-on-goodreads-first-reads, trash
Read from March 20 to 21, 2012

I won a copy on Goodreads Firstreads.

First a disclaimer.I am sure there will be lots of people out there that find this book filled with deep meaning and sardonic humor.I am not one of them.Remember this is how I rate the book.

Calvin is a mid-20 year old who returns home after dropping out of graduate school and running out of money.His older brother has also returned home to help take care of their father who has lost his job as a pilot because of cancer.His high school sister also lives at home still.She gets pregnant and decides to keep the baby.The mother is trying to keep them all together but as her husband's medical bills mount,they have to face the fear they might lose their house.Calvin is torn between his desire to get away from his family and his desire to help them in their time of need.While his family does have its quirks, they are all very loving and supportive of each other.

Within the first 20 pages,I actively disliked Calvin.I can not say my feelings changed much for him throughout the novel.He is selfish, a whiner, a quitter, and unable to see when he has something good.His family obviously was well-off.They lived in a 5 bedroom, 4 bath house.They had a maid, landscapers,belonged to the country club, and all had vehicles.Calvin's mother gets him a job working with autistic children at a day-care.Because it isn't his dream job and doesn't pay the greatest, Calvin complains about it despite the satisfaction he gets and being repeatedly complimented on his work.He complains about not being able to save enough after paying back his college loan, buying vinyl records, drugs, weed, movie tickets,movie rentals,his credit card bill(probably more records), and trying to have a social life(even though that seems to be looking up porn on the internet and getting high).Calvin reports on almost every detail of what happens in his life,but he seems detached from these things for the most part.He quits grad school and his job because he knows they "aren't right" with no clue what to do or the desire to try and do anything.He seems to look down on everyone because they annoy him.While his family talks about saving their home, none of them seem to take any real steps toward saving it.This is strange because , the rest of the family always seem willing to help each other except for this.

The climax of the book was very good and would have raised the book to 2 stars. unfortunately Calvin's response to the climax brought it back down. Some might say he responded appropiately but to me it seemed he just,as Calvin would say, stayed on the seesaw.

There is an excess of the f-word.Some people might think me a prude for objecting to it.While I admit that I don't like the word, I mainly think it has become cliched or hackneyed.Just like cool, tubular, awesome, phat, the f-word has passed into the range of overuse.Even the words that stand in for it(f-word,f-bomb,freakin',friggin') have become cliche. Here is a test.Replace the f-word with the word toot(tooting, tooter, mothertooter, etc.).If you become tired of seeing toot after reading 20 to 25 pages, it is being overused.To give credit where it is due, Calvin does manage to never use the F-word in front of the autistic children.This would seem to be another example of Calvin having control but chooses not to use it in most cases.

The reason I entered this giveaway was the book was described as quirky and very funny.It was quirky but I did not find it funny.Sad, depressing, annoying but not funny.I received my first clue when I saw the phrase "smart and funny" which usually translates to pretentious.Then when I saw suggested reading group questions, I knew I was in trouble.Why does it always seem reading group books are never selected for enjoyment? Of course, I have always had trouble with being told what to read and then what I should think about it.I believe you can discuss technique or craftsmanship. That is solid and has rules and order.But the art of writing is totally subjective by the observer. Because art is what it makes you feel. Even if the creator of the art says it should make you feel one way,it is up to you, the observer, to make the final decision.
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03/20/2012 page 90
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