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3.5 

Family Meal

By Bryan Washington
Family Meal by Bryan Washington digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

“A stunning look at what it really means to be family.” —Michael Schaub, NPR

From the bestselling, award-winning author of Memorial and Lot, an irresistible, intimate novel about two young men, once best friends, whose lives collide again after a loss.


Cam is living in Los Angeles and falling apart after the love of his life has died. Kai's ghost won't leave Cam alone; his spectral visits wild, tender, and unexpected. When Cam returns to his hometown of Houston, he crashes back into the orbit of his former best friend, TJ, and TJ's family bakery. TJ's not sure how to navigate this changed Cam, impenetrably cool and self-destructing, or their charged estrangement. Can they find a way past all that has been said - and left unsaid - to save each other? Could they find a way back to being okay again, or maybe for the first time?

When secrets and wounds become so insurmountable that they devour us from within, hope and sustenance and friendship can come from the most unlikely source. Spanning Los Angeles, Houston, and Osaka, Family Meal is a story about how the people who know us the longest can hurt us the most, but how they also set the standard for love. With his signature generosity and eye for food, sex, love, and the moments that make us the most human, Bryan Washington returns with a brilliant new novel.

80 Reviews

3.5
Thinking Face“Completely a me thing, but I just couldn’t get in the book, especially the Cam chapters. Overall an important book, thematically and with its diversity all around, but the story was repetitive and felt like many others I’ve read: it alternates between recurring moments almost detached, at least from my point of view, and a few tender instances and raw truth that I appreciated a lot.”
HeartbreakingRacism
Loudly Crying Face“There was so much heartbreak in this story about grief, love, family (born into and found). Please make sure you check the content warning, there's a lot of tough topics in this one.”
Diverse charactersEasy to readRealistic settingHeartbreakingHomophobiaRacismSelf-harmViolence
Loudly Crying Face“Well this was indeed an emotional reading journey. “This is, then, a light tale that becomes heavy.””
Believable charactersMulti-layered charactersOriginal writingFast-pacedSuspensefulUnpredictableRealistic settingDarkHeartbreaking
Loudly Crying Face“"It takes all of these people to make one person's life okay. One person can't do it for you by themselves. I don't think I ever really understood that, and now I do. It's our responsibility to take care of each other." 5⭐ - When I began this novel, about 20% through, I did not think this would be a book I would enjoy. I picked it as part of the 52 Book Club's 2024 prompts for a book I picked without reading the blurb. It got heavy fast and did not hold back on describing the uncomfortable parts of loss and grief and how someone may hurt themselves in the process. By the time I was finishing up, I found certain lines and passages would bring me to tears. Washington's writing, though intense and different from the books I'm used to, completely made my heart tied to these characters. The pure pain and love and need for connection we see as the characters develop brought me those tears. This book was an emotional dive into grief, self-destruction, and finding family. The characters feel realistic, their suffering raw and real, and it makes you both annoyed when they sabotage themselves and also entirely happy when they find genuine joy. Overall I am glad I gave this book a shot.”
Characters change and growDiverse charactersBeautifully writtenDark settingRealistic settingHeartbreakingThought-provokingHomophobiaSelf-harm

About Bryan Washington

Bryan Washington is the author of the story collection Lot and the bestselling novel Memorial. He is also the winner of a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Award, a New York Public Library Young Lions Award, an Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, an International Dylan Thomas Prize, a Lambda Literary Award, and an O. Henry Prize, and was a finalist for the James Tait Black Prize, the Joyce Carol Oates Prize, a PEN/Robert W. Bingham prize finalist, and a National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. He is a columnist for The New York Times Magazine and his fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and The Best American Short Stories. He divides his time between Houston and Osaka.

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