The Dysfunctional Family by Paul Bress

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The Dysfunctional Family by Paul Bress

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Just over two months of the lives of the Brown family in diary form. A clever and enjoyable read. Paul was kind enough to talk to Bookbag about his book.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 243 Date: November 2009
Publisher: FastPrint
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-844267187

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Societies are constantly changing and sociology students are presented with theories to help them to comprehend what's happening. Here we have a different approach: a family has been paid a small amount of money to write diaries which they would keep secret from other members of the family and which would be available for publication. This book is the result and we follow Phil and Sue Brown and their two sons, Jack and Theo though a traumatic period which lasts for just over two months. The entries in the diaries are made daily and we read what has happened to each member of the 'dysfunctional family'.

It's a clever device. Personalities emerge through their own words and their interactions with others. Characters develop as a result of their actions and inactions and relationships falter, develop and collapse. Jack is a bit of a lad but a more thoughtful side of his personality emerges – although not without some angst along the way. Theo was expected to have a great academic future – in fact, Theo himself expected it – but is it really what he wants? People wondered how Jack and Theo could be brothers, but I wondered more about how their parents could have produced them. Phil's weak and Sue's self-centred.

The diary format does have its limitations, particularly when every member of the family makes an entry each day. We all have days when nothing much happens but this never seems to happen in the Brown family and when you look back at the end of the book it's tempting to think that just too much has happened, too many decisions have been made and changed, in rather too short a time. That's me being very picky though – as I was aware that I was unwilling to put the book down until I found out what happened to each member of the family.

The second device – that of this being a real-life study of a dysfunctional family – is very convincing too. There were several points in the book when I did wonder! Paul Bress manages to hold it all together, allowing our four narrators to speak for themselves without ever introducing an authorial voice. It's neatly and cleverly done.

I'd like to thank the author for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For more fiction, in diary form, we can recommend Right to Die by Hazel McHaffie. There's a superb story hiding in Double Crossings by Yvette Rocheron and we loved the humour in The Brinkmeyers by Michael Cameron.

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Buy The Dysfunctional Family by Paul Bress at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dysfunctional Family by Paul Bress at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Dysfunctional Family by Paul Bress at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dysfunctional Family by Paul Bress at

Bookinterviews.jpg Paul Bress was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.


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