The Turner House (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

What happens to one blue collar African American family living in Detroit when their elderly widowed mother moves in with her oldest son and a decision must be made about what to do with the family's abandoned run-down home? The 2008 recession has hit and the house on Yarrow Street where Francis and Viola Turner raised their thirteen children since migrating from Arkansas in the 1940's has now depreciated to one-tenth of its mortgage value. As the adult children, scattered and living their separate lives, emphatically begin to voice individual opinions, told primarily by the oldest and youngest siblings, the complex family dynamics of shared memories and haunting divisive secrets will emerge. In this perceptive portrait of a family facing undetermined changes among themselves as well as that caused by the politics of the city where they live, it is the hopeful matriarchal wisdom of Viola that will ultimately define the true meaning of ‘family’ and capture the heart of every reader. I loved meeting the Turners!

— Jane Glaser

The Turner family home is in East Detroit. The patriarch has died. Mom's having health problems and is now living at her eldest son Cha-Cha's house, and though she's raring to return, her kids, 13 in all, know that's not likely to happen. The house is under water from remortgaging, and the kids are not on the same page about what to do - keep or sell? One son, Troy, as the idea to sell at a short sale to a friend of the family, keeping the house but getting the bank to take the hit. Oldest son Cha-Cha and his wife are taking care of mom in the meantime, and on top of that, he think he’s being haunted by a haint, which is sort of a ghost. And Lelah the youngest? She’s secretly crashing at the house because she lost her apartment to her gambling addiction.  Flournoy is a master of character, infusing her men and women with complications and authenticity. The Turner House is a glorious thing, distinctly about a sprawling African American family, and yet universal in the family’s complications and struggles.  

— Daniel Goldin

May 2015 Indie Next List

“The greatest testament to the skill of a writer is the ability to make what might seem alien to the reader completely recognizable and utterly engaging. Such was my experience reading The Turner House. Mine is a tiny white family from a small town with no sense of heritage, yet every moment I spent with the Turners -- a family of 13 children shaped by the Great Migration to Detroit -- I felt at home. Their struggles and joys are universal, yet told with an exacting eye that always finds the perfect detail. This is a truly impressive debut.”
— Kim Fox (M), Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids, MI


"Flournoy's knockout debut is one of those books that should, by rights, be described as the Great American Novel." -- NPR
A New York Times Notable Book

Named a Best Book of the Year byO, The Oprah Magazine * Entertainment Weekly * NPR * Essence * Men's Journal * Buzzfeed * Bustle * Time Out * Denver Post * Publishers Weekly * Kirkus Reviews * BookPage * Literary Hub * Kobo * The Week

"A page-turner. Richly wrought prose and intimate, vivid dialogue. A-." -- Entertainment Weekly

For over fifty years the Turners have lived on Yarrow Street. Their house has seen thirteen children get grown and gone--and some return; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit's East Side, and the loss of a father. But when their powerful mother falls ill, the Turners are called home to decide their house's fate and to reckon with how their past haunts--and shapes--their future. The Turner House is a striking examination of the price we pay for our dreams, and the ways in which our families bring us home.

"An epic that feels deeply personal . . . Flournoy's finely tuned empathy infuses her characters with a radiant humanity." -- O, The Oprah Magazine

"In this assured and memorable novel, Flournoy] provides the feeling of knowing a family from the inside out, as we would wish to know our own." -- New York Times Book Review
Product Details
ISBN: 9780544705166
ISBN-10: 0544705165
Publisher: Mariner Books
Publication Date: March 1st, 2016
Pages: 352
Language: English