Born Weird

Born Weird

Book - 2013
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The Weirds have always been a little off, but not one of them ever suspected that they'd been cursed by their grandmother.
 
At the moment of the births of her five grandchildren Annie Weird gave each one a special power. Richard, the oldest, always keeps safe; Abba always has hope; Lucy is never lost and Kent can beat anyone in a fight. As for Angie, she always forgives, instantly. But over the years these so-called blessings ended up ruining their lives.
 
Now Annie is dying and she has one last task for Angie: gather her far-flung brothers and sisters and assemble them in her grandmother's hospital room so that at the moment of her death, she can lift these blessings-turned-curses. And Angie has just two weeks to do it.
 
What follows is a quest like no other, tearing up highways and racing through airports, from a sketchy Winnipeg nursing home to the small island kingdom of Upliffta, from the family's crumbling ancestral Toronto mansion to a motel called Love. And there is also the search for the answer to the greatest family mystery of all: what really happened to their father, whose maroon Maserati was fished out of a lake so many years ago?

Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, c2013
ISBN: 9780307357649
Branch Call Number: F KAU
Characteristics: 269 p. ; 21 cm

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Book starts funny but disintegrates into bathos and does not recover. Why was this book written? What insight/ messaged did the author want us to read into the dysfunctional lives of these pathetic adults who could not grow up because their father had abandoned them? Why blame grandmother for their own foibles? The magical thinking is confused with reality, and huge jumps in time with no explanation of what lead us to the next step in the story. Why, in one chapter does Abba go away for 8 years but in the next chapter she is back in 2 years looking for
daddy in a killer snow storm with her hair brain siblings? Reading this book was a waste of time but fortunately it was short so I only missed 3 evenings of good reading.

ksoles Dec 01, 2013

On the occasion of his/her birth, each of five siblings with the surname Weird received a "blursing," an ostensible blessing that turns into a curse. The blursings bestowed by the Weird grandmother grant particular capabilities: Lucy never gets lost, Abba never loses hope, Richard always eschews harm, Kent defends himself from threats and Angie always forgives.

As "Born Weird" begins, the grandmother summons Angie to her hospital room in Vancouver and orders her to gather her brothers and sisters and return on the day she has predicted she will die. If Angie completes the task, "the Shark" promises to remove all the blur sings. Although sceptical, Angie accepts the mission and travels across Canada, then to the fictional country of Upliffta with a final stop at the family home in Toronto.

Andrew Kaufman explores the chaos of emotions through the blursings, which serve as double-edged swords. Angie, for example, always forgives, but never stops to examine the causes of her hurt; Abba’s hope for the future prevents her from fully living in the present; and Lucy believes that love equals loss so seeks out only casual sexual encounters. Flashbacks to the siblings’ childhood suggest the blursings intensified after their father’s disappearance. When their mother withdraws from reality altogether, the adolescent Weirds must take care of themselves.

Kaufman packs a lot into his narrative; specific flight numbers, dates, and spans of time suggest deeper meaning and require time and attention to appreciate. Because of both the attention devoted to codes and puzzles and the overuse of platitudes, the novel sometimes feels shallow. The ultimate removal of each blursing becomes meaningless after repeated life lessons from the Shark and the Weird mother. However, the Weirds certainly produce an enjoyable read and Kaufman showcases his talent for snappy dialogue. The book concludes tidily, though perhaps too tidily for a family whose motto is "truth isn't fair."

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