Book Love: Monkeys

I recently read the book Monkeys by Susan Minot after seeing it recommended this winter on one of the blogs I follow (I forget which one!). Published in 1986, the book follows the childhood of the Vincent family; a mother, father, and their seven children, who live in New England. I found the book a little slow at first, because Minot’s voice is very subtle. She is great at describing those tiny details of family life — the way your siblings look at each other during a tense moment or just how your mother adjusts her clothing — that build up the collective consciousness of a family. By the time you’re halfway through the book, you definitely feel invested in what happens to the family members; it really sneaks up on you! And you can feel everything building to a defining moment (that I won’t spoil for you). It’s a short book, so even if you can’t get into it at first, plow through, because I think it’s worth it. Interestingly, I read up on the Minot family after I finished the book and found out that 1) Monkeys is based on their actual childhood 2) a number of the seven siblings have written their own books either based entirely or partially on their own lives, and 3) there are ongoing family fueds about their differing accounts! That just makes me want to read everything Minot this summer.

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