(Full disclosure: This post uses Bookshop.org affiliate links. I received a complimentary review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.)
Last summer, I sat in a hammock atop a mountain reading Liz Parker’s All Are Welcome, surprised by just now compelling I found it. When a book’s main conflict is that characters are keeping secrets and lying to one another, I tend to find it more stressful than interesting. But Parker’s characters were compelling, their reasons for hiding aspects of their inner lives believable. I was hooked.
Naturally, when the offer to be part of the book tour for Parker’s new book, The Family Compound, came around, it was an immediate yes. Many thanks to Over the River PR and Lake Union Publishing for the opportunity to read this book early and to participate in the tour.
The Family Compound centers on the next generation of a family who owns a large property atop a hill. Two houses, two families. When the patriarch passes away, he wills the property to the younger generation, two sets of siblings with complicated relationships to the land and to their family’s fading wealth. The catch? All five of them own the property equally, and all decisions about what to do with this inheritance must be unanimous.
Enter the drama. We follow the perspectives of the three women in the family — Penny, Laurie, and Halsey, as they work to untangle the complex reality of wanting to keep the property without having a clear financial plan to sustain it. William is indifferent, while the only one with any money to support the place, Chris, wants to sell.
What I Liked
The alternating perspectives work really well in this story, giving us a good sense of each character’s motivations and desires, plus those juicy secrets they don’t want their cousins and siblings to uncover. Seeing them through one another’s eyes as well as their own gives us a greater understanding of the family dynamics at play and the tension that’s built up between them all over the years.
The plot is mostly character driven, the decision of whether to keep the land and how to sustain it being the primary conflict. The other peaks in the conflict help to underscore and add stakes to this central question of whether to keep the compound in the family, and whether keeping up your image is worth sacrificing your own happiness.
The writing is compelling, with some truly insightful and beautiful descriptons and reflections throughout. It’s the kind of book I felt I needed to read with a pen so I could mark off particular lines to savor later on.
What I Didn’t Like
There’s not much about this book I would say I didn’t enjoy. I think the pacing is a bit slow at times, but that is clearly by design and helps highlight the stress of not knowing what to do next that each character feels.
It is an interesting choice not to give us the perspectives of the male members of the family, William and Chris. I’m not mad at it, but I would be curious to hear why Parker decided to focus only on the interiorty of the women who had some desire to keep the land, rather than let us see into why William is indifferent and why Chris wants to sell.
Overall, I thouroughly enjoyed The Family Compound. It is a complicated story about the challenges of family dynamics, particularly in close proximity and when things don’t go to plan.
I recommend this book to fans of a family drama, of alternating perspectives, and for those who enjoy a character driven novel full of growth and reflection. The Family Compound came out on August 23rd, 2022. If you want to hear what other readers thought, check out the other stops on the virtual book tour.
This post originally appeared on Your Book Friend’s Medium site.