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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasing read
This could have been a depressing tale: it concerns Hattie, who is charged with looking after her nephew and niece while her sister is suffering with a psychotic illness and being looked after in a psychiatric hospital. Unable to handle the children herself, Hattie decides to find their father Cherkis - who hasn't been a part of the children's lives for a long time...
Published on 17 Feb. 2009 by Bookish

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable road-trip read
This is the story of Hattie, a young woman who leaves her life, and her failing love-life, in Paris and returns to Canada to look after her 15 year old nephew Logan and 11 year old niece Thebes. Their mother, Min, has been admitted to psychiatric hospital as a manic depressive. The father left the family ten years earlier. The book tells the story of a road trip to...
Published on 13 Feb. 2009 by Pitoucat


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasing read, 17 Feb. 2009
This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Hardcover)
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This could have been a depressing tale: it concerns Hattie, who is charged with looking after her nephew and niece while her sister is suffering with a psychotic illness and being looked after in a psychiatric hospital. Unable to handle the children herself, Hattie decides to find their father Cherkis - who hasn't been a part of the children's lives for a long time.
The three of them set out for what would be called a `road movie', if it was a film.

Nephew Logan is typically teenaged and temperamental, and niece Thebes is cute, enthusiastic and funny (although I did wonder if she might have some of her mother's emotional difficulties perhaps...). The book is written through the eyes of Hattie - but I finished the book thinking that, of all the characters, I knew her the least.

Depressing it isn't: it's fun, engaging, easy to read and at times very funny. It's an easy read, and yet there is a depth and a genuine understanding of people's relationships and the effect of mental health issues on families.

I didn't like the lack of speech marks: I first saw this type of punctuation (or lack of it) in `Angela's Ashes' and it was very effective there, adding an atmospheric touch. But in this book it just made the dialogue breathless and a bit irritating to read after a while - I couldn't see the point.

I always enjoy a book that teaches me something or helps me to see an aspect of life through a new viewpoint, and The Flying Troutmans did exactly that. I would recommend this if you like American literature, and like something a bit different to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging 'road' tale, 7 April 2009
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Hardcover)
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Somehow this story grew on me as I read it. The first 50 pages were hard going and I found the characters irritating but after that I was looking forward to reading it. Hattie leaves her luke warm relationship in Paris after a phone call from her sister Min who wants her to look after Logan and Thebes her two children. Min has severe mental health issues.

Hattie decides Min would be better off in hospital and delivers her there before setting off on a whim to find the children's father - Cherkis - so that he can take care of his two children. Finding him involves a road trip from Canada across America with various stops on the way. The flashbacks into Hattie's and Min's childhood underpin the whole story as does the question of Min's mental stability.

I did find the lack of speech marks very annoying and that is why I haven't rated this 5 stars. I had to keep backtracking to work out what had been said and to whom. Apart from that I think the author has caught the essence of family life and the banter that goes on between family members. I thought Thebes was especially irritating at first but she grew on me as the story progressed - though I did feel she behaved and spoke in a far more adult way than most 11 year olds.

Overall I found it a book worth reading and one I would recommend if you don't mind trying something different.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Original Road Trip Read, 14 Mar. 2009
By 
K. Wright - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Hardcover)
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Hattie is Min's sister who is travelling the world to escape from her childhood but comes home to Canada to look after Logan and Thebes (Min's children) whilst manic depressive Min is in hospital. Hattie however feels that it would be best for their father Cherkis to look after them and so they set off on a road trip to California to find him.

It is the writing of Logan and Thebes mainly which made this story so believable and interesting. All the different facets to their characters made this book so absorbing and interesting.

This book has been compared to "Little Miss Sunshine" and it is very similar in style as it's a family road trip story focussing on the emotions of the main characters. Although there are themes of suicide and depression, the book is humerous and enjoyable.

The only thing that spoilt the book for me somewhat was the lack of speech marks. This was especially true at the beginning when it was difficult to follow what was being said. However the quality of story and characters had me reading to the end.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A light, fun read, 26 Jan. 2009
By 
Chantal Lyons "C.S. Lyons" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Hardcover)
On the back of the book one person claims it to be "reminiscent of Little Miss Sunshine". And there are certainly parallels; Logan, the moody male teenager, is similar to the moody male teenager from the film, Thebes, the delightful eleven-year-old, is the chirpy girl and both families drive a beat-up van. However, I found The Flying Troutmans slightly more fun.

The story is narrated by Hattie, Min's younger sister, who has dealt with Min's mental problems her entire life. Interspersed with the Troutmans' journey are anecdotes, some hilarious, some tragic, but mostly both, of Min. Oddly though, despite the story being narrated by Hattie, I felt like I didn't know her as well as Logan and Thebes who are as alive as characters in a book can be. Thebes is definitely the highlight of this novel - crazy, arty, and hopelessly optimistic - so when she hits her lows, it hits the reader too.

It's easy to curl up with this book, read it for a while and put it down, then come back to it eagerly. The descriptions are quirky, and paired with the dialogue and the general eccentricity of Thebes, makes for laugh-out-loud reading.

There were two flaws with this book for me - firstly, the slightly-unresolved ending. I wanted to know what happened to the characters. Secondly, the complete lack of speech marks. I've seen this used in other books and it doesn't work for me. Luckily enough the story itself was enough to keep me interested but there were several times when the lack of speech marks had me confused and I really see no point to it - it's always struck me as a little pretentious and a poor effort to make a book stand out.

Lack of punctuation aside, I enjoyed reading the book, and I recommend it to anyone looking for something light and humourous.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Crossing over borders, 30 Sept. 2012
By 
Ms. V. Hoyle (York, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Hardcover)
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You can't help but smile while reading this compulsive novel, even the terribly depressing parts. There isn't a great deal of plot here. Our narrator Hattie Troutman is 28, recently single and living in Paris when she receives a call for help from her 11-year-old niece Thebes. Hattie's sister, Min, has been committed to a mental hospital and Thebes and her older brother Logan need someone to look after them, their father having disappeared to North Dakota years before. Hattie returns begrudgingly to her native Manitoba where she finds caring for her niece and nephew an overwhelming responsibility. Thebes talks non-stop, has purple matted hair, bathes infrequently, and is obsessed with crafts. On the other hand, Logan hardly talks, drives without a license, drinks, smokes up, and obsesses with basketball. Meanwhile, Min, now in the psychiatric ward, asks Hattie to help her die. At her wits end, Hattie makes a choice and tells a lie. She claims that Min asked her to find their father. What ensues is a road trip like no other.

Most of the story is Hattie's wonderfully droll descriptions of her attempts to connect with the children and their eccentric antics during the trip. At its heart, this is Hattie's coming of age story, heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time. It's my first Miriam Toews but not my last.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun and Slightly Dysfunctional Family Road Trip, 8 Mar. 2009
By 
DAZ (Manchester, Uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Hardcover)
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I liked the look of this book's cover and I'm pleased to say that the story matched up - it is an enjoyable and upbeat story.

The story follows Hattie, who ends up looking after her niece, Thebes, and nephew, Logan, when her sister is taken into hospital due to mental health problems. She decides that she can't really cope with the responsibility, so takes them on a road trip in search of their estranged father, Cherkis.

The story sails along at a fair old pace as they travel from one unheard of American town to the next. Each stop brings new encounters and problems. Hattie narrates the story with a dry sense of humour - I particularly like the constant updates of the state of their van and the various noises the engine makes! There are some genuinely funny scenes and lots of subtle humour. Thebes generally steals the show with her outgoing and all-round positive outlook on life. She also makes frequent bizarre announcements. Logan is your typical, sulky teenager, but I think that over the course of the novel, he grows the most. It is touching at times, but never becomes sickly or contrived. The novel comes to an abrupt end, but I think this works in its favour, allowing the reader to speculate on what happens next.

I enjoyed this book, especially Miram Toews' upbeat writing style - well worth a read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Original and entertaining..., 22 Mar. 2009
By 
LittleReader (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Hardcover)
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I think that what sets this novel a notch higher than it might otherwise be, is the delightful narrative. I loved the conversations between the three central characters so much that the plot, a little transient for my taste, didn't totally affect my overall enjoyment of the novel.
Hattie returns to America, from her home in Paris, following a phonecall from her niece to say that she is needed... It turns out that Thebes and Logan's mum, Hattie's sister, is mentally unwell and in need of hospitalisation. Hattie is to care for her kids while she's admitted. What Hattie actually decides to do is take her niece and nephew on a road trip in search of their estranged father.
Cue a witty, sad, poignant and often very funny account of their time on the road together, interspersed with flashbacks of Hattie and her sister, Min, growing up and her long-term issues with depression and you have yourself a pretty fine read.
So, the four stars and not five,is mainly because I felt the book was rushed towards the end and could have done with being about 100 pages longer to feel finished for me - there was just something missing in order to complete the tale.
Still - highly recommended...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky road-trip novel, 3 April 2011
By 
Melanie Pratt (Wales, U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Hardcover)
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The Flying Troutmans is a witty and fulfilling read, fairly reminiscent (as stated on the cover) of the film 'Little Miss Sunshine' in the sense that it relates the tale of a highly dysfunctional family taking a road trip across the USA.

The main protagonist is a woman called Hattie who is living in Paris when she gets a phonecall from her niece in Canada saying that her sister, Min, is having severe psychiatric issues and that she needs to come and take care of her niece and nephew. Once Min has been hospitalised, Hattie, ill-equipped to care for the children, sets off on a road trip with them in search of their father, whom they have not seen in ten years. The rest of the novel concerns the adventures and encounters they have on this trip, interspersed with memories of Hattie and Min's childhood. One thing I didn't really like about the novel was that it doesn't employ speech marks, which I felt was a little affected and unnecessary. That aside, the characters were well developed and appealing, and the story had a real quirky charm. Be warned however, it does not really have a 'proper' ending, which spoiled it a little for me. Generally enjoyable, though.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Funny and grim, 6 Oct. 2009
This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Hardcover)
The Troutman family are all a little crazy, some more so than others. Hattie dashes back to Canada to pick up the pieces yet again. Her elder sister Min is desperately ill in a psychiatric ward, leaving Hattie with Logan and Thebes to care for at a time when she is at a pretty low ebb herself. Overwhelmed, Hattie takes off on a chaotic road trip across the USA with the kids, hoping to be able to hand them over to their father when she finds him. The story is both funny and grim, with Hattie and the kids lurching from one weird or funny experience to the next, but with the constant fear that Min won't make it this time. The road-trip story has been done often, lets face it, and there are far too many books with quirky but ultimately endearing kids. But, this one is an exception because it is so well written, and all of the characters are brilliantly real. Worth a read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable road-trip read, 13 Feb. 2009
By 
Pitoucat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is the story of Hattie, a young woman who leaves her life, and her failing love-life, in Paris and returns to Canada to look after her 15 year old nephew Logan and 11 year old niece Thebes. Their mother, Min, has been admitted to psychiatric hospital as a manic depressive. The father left the family ten years earlier. The book tells the story of a road trip to California, taken to find the father.

It presents a mixture of emotions and can be read in short bursts without affecting the story. The ongoing search for the father is interspersed with many flashbacks to the life that sisters Hattie and Min led with their parents, reminiscences of happier days for the children.

The ending is rather uncertain. It would be nice to know what happened next. However, this is an enjoyable book that would make a good holiday read.
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The Flying Troutmans
The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews (Paperback - 6 Aug. 2009)
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