Family Drama Done Right: Reviewing the Summer 2015 Release of “Let Me Explain You”

It’s tough to find a good book about family. That seems kind of weird, since most everybody has been part of a family at some point, so you’d think we’d have a handle on writing about it — but instead, family stories are subject to Goldilocks syndrome: They’re typically either too sweet or too cynical; too focused on one character or trying so hard to talk about everybody that the reader doesn’t care about anybody; so focused on flaws that the characters are unlikeable and unrelateable, or so careful with the characters that they seem perfect and fake.


Maybe it’s hard to write about family because we’re so close to it — it’s such a big presence in our lives in so many ways both conscious and subconscious that it’s hard to have any real perspective on it. Whatever the reason, I love to find a book that tells the story of a family that feels real, and Let Me Explain You is one of those books. It’s funny and sad and sprawling but focused, and it’s a great book to get you through a weekend away or the tail end of your summer reading.


I wrote a full review of Annie Liontas’s Let Me Explain You over at BookPage, but here’s an excerpt:

“Let Me Explain You is about the American dream: the good, the bad, the ugly and the hilariously relatable. It’s one family’s story of an old world clashing with a modern one. Thick Greek coffee goes up against Starbucks; microwave cereal stands alongside freshly butchered lamb; arranged marriages end in divorce; and traditions buckle against everything from homosexuality to Facebook.”


I also love Bustle’s review of it on their list of Best Books That You’d Be Crazy to Not Stuff into Your Suitcase, No Matter Where You’re Headed:

“It’s clear from the novel’s first line that its central character is a force to be reckoned with — a force many of you will profoundly dislike — but it’s also a testament to Annie Liontas’ keen ear for that Greek-New Jerseyan patois (which is so evocative it’s reason enough to read Let Me Explain You) and sensitivity to the inner workings of a modern family.”


You can find Let Me Explain You (and all those other books that you’ll want to stuff in your suitcase) at independent bookstores anywhere, and you can find my reviews monthly at BookPage.


Carrie Rollwagen is author of The Localist: Think Independent, Buy Local and Reclaim the American Dream, creator of 30 Days of Local Praise and co-founder of Church Street Coffee & Books. Find her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @crollwagen.

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