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The Resource Family of origin, by C.J. Hauser

Family of origin, by C.J. Hauser

Label
Family of origin
Title
Family of origin
Statement of responsibility
by C.J. Hauser
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
When a controversial scientist drowns while investigating his theories about evolution moving in reverse, his estranged adult children reunite to settle their late father's affairs while trying to understand the research he abandoned them to pursue
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Character
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ Hauser’s glorious second novel, following The From-Aways (2014), explores the complicated lives of Elsa and Nolan Grey, half-siblings who are dealing with the recent death of their father, Ian. They reunite after years apart to retrieve Ian's belongings, hoping to discover why he gave up a prestigious academic career to move to an isolated community on Leap Island, off the Gulf Coast, to become a “Reversalist.” This cultish, much-mocked collective of fringe scientists forensically study the undowny bufflehead, a species of duck that Reversalists claim is becoming less adapted to its surroundings. This seemingly insignificant and deeply questionable observation is why they fervently claim that evolution is reversing. Nolan employs alternating chapters that shift between Elsa and Nolan’s younger years and their present as they use their time on the island to analyze their past mistakes and future options. Reminiscent of the family explorations of Rick Moody, Jennifer Egan, and Lauren Groff, this tragicomic novel explores climate change, family ties, and the millennial generation’s feeling that they have arrived late to the party, that humanity and the environment appear to be declining before their eyes. Full of brilliantly realized characters, Hauser’s latest is profound, often incredibly funny, and captures the times like few other contemporary novels. -- Alexander Moran (Reviewed 5/15/2019) (Booklist, vol 115, number 18, p28)
  • Hauser (The From-Aways) impresses with her wistful contemporary tale of family bonds and misplaced pessimism. Estranged half-siblings 35-year-old Elsa—a discouraged second-grade teacher in Minnesota—and 29-year-old Nolan—a social media manager for the San Francisco Giants—travel to Leap’s Island, a private island off the Gulf Coast, to investigate the drowning death of their father, Ian Grey. Ian, once a respected biologist, had come to Leap’s Island to join the Reversalists, a small group of researchers who believe evolution is regressing to make each generation worse. The eccentric inhabitants jealously guard their research on the island’s unique duck species, hoping to be the first to prove the theory. Elsa is convinced Ian committed suicide, but Nolan hopes conversations with the researchers will prove her wrong. The pair fall into old patterns of sibling rivalry, and Elsa wrestles with her drastic reaction to learning what caused the family’s rupture 15 years before. Hauser intercuts the siblings’ investigation with flashbacks to their fractured earlier family life and the melancholic backstories explaining each of the Reversalists’ reason for coming to the island. This shimmering take on grief and family will enthrall fans of character-driven stories with its bevy of dashed dreams and cluttered emotions. (July)
			 --Staff (Reviewed 05/06/2019) (Publishers Weekly, vol 266, issue 18, p)
  • Poor Elsa Grey. Late twentysomething, newly separated from her boyfriend, and not exactly happy, she's at least far enough away from her problematic father, mother, and younger half brother Nolan—a source of pain and confusion for most of her life—to make a go of it. That all changes when she receives a phone call informing her that her father, an accomplished scientist, has drowned off the shore of a small Gulf Coast island. There, he had been doing research with a group called the Reverse Darwinists, a small, eccentric team of researchers who believe that evolution is now running in reverse. Elsa is having trouble moving beyond regrets and family issues from childhood, but she must face them now as she travels to the island with Nolan to find out what happened. Although the novel starts out slowly, it deepens and expands once we get to spend more time with Elsa in the core middle section. Hauser (The From-Aways) effectively handles Elsa's emotionally complicated reckoning with herself and her family, charting Elsa's journey through these dark waters with skill and insight. VERDICT A strong psychological profile of a deeply human character; recommended for fans of complex female protagonists, psychological family dramas, and literary fiction. --Patrick Sullivan (Reviewed 06/01/2019) (Library Journal, vol 144, issue 5, p104)
  • In the wake of their father's death, two half siblings confront their pasts and try to rewrite their futures. Hauser (The From-Aways, 2014) returns with a strange and heartbreaking novel about what it means to be a family. When their estranged father, Dr. Ian Grey, drowns while conducting research, adult half siblings Elsa and Nolan Grey are brought together for the first time in years. Ian, along with other peculiar scientists and researchers, lived on Leap's Island in the Gulf of Mexico, where he studied the undowny bufflehead, a duck species that seems to be evolving backwards. Before his death, Ian had become obsessed with one duck, Duck Number Twelve or the Paradise Duck, which he described as "a freak among its peers." Traveling to Leap's Island, the half siblings hope to gather Ian's possessions and find answers to their lingering questions. Elsa believes Ian committed suicide, but Nolan is adamant he didn't. They both wonder if their own failures, inadequacies, and mistakes caused their father to withdraw from the world. Elsa and Nolan must also grapple with their fraught relationship—full of taboos, secrets, and abandonment issues. Playing with time, memory, and point of view, the novel is structurally ambitious, though sometimes to its own detriment. Its strongest parts are its ruminations on the Grey family dynamics, so the portraits of the islanders feel expendable. Hauser's ability to render the complexities of family relationships with radical honesty is a feat. When Elsa thinks back on her childhood, Hauser writes, "her father had been taken from her over and over again, and Elsa was tired of coming up with new ways to suffer in his absence." A lesser writer would not be able to deliver the disturbing and weird with the grace that Hauser does. A unique, poignant, and slightly taboo novel about family, biology, and evolution. (Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2019)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10785378
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Hauser, CJ
Dewey number
813/.6
Index
no index present
Literary form
novels
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Fathers
  • Islands
  • FICTION / Family Life / Siblings
  • FICTION / Absurdist
  • FICTION / Literary
Label
Family of origin, by C.J. Hauser
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
on1048050429
Dimensions
25 cm
Extent
287 pages
Isbn
9780385544627
Lccn
2018036898
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)1048050429
Label
Family of origin, by C.J. Hauser
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
on1048050429
Dimensions
25 cm
Extent
287 pages
Isbn
9780385544627
Lccn
2018036898
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)1048050429

Library Locations

    • Central LibraryBorrow it
      710 W. Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX, 78701, US
      30.2713021 -97.7460168
    • Milwood BranchBorrow it
      12500 Amherst Dr, Austin, TX, 78727, US
      30.4223444 -97.7161692
    • Manchaca Road BranchBorrow it
      5500 Manchaca Road, Austin, TX, 78745, US
      30.2166039 -97.79733689999999
    • Old Quarry BranchBorrow it
      7051 Village Center Dr., Austin, TX, 78731, US
      30.3529975 -97.7551561
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