"Family Lore," the first novel for adults by acclaimed young adult author Elizabeth Acevedo, is our "GMA" Book Club pick for August.
What is the meaning of family? How does it change from one generation to another?
"Family Lore" aims to answer these questions by centering a multi-generational story about one Dominican American family, told through the voices of its women as they await a gathering that will change their lives forever.
Follow four sisters and their daughters as they explore family relationships, secrets, food, love and home. This epic novel may span decades, but it remains an incredibly intimate experience where readers can't help but fall in love with the characters, their voices, humor, sexiness and wisdom.
Read and listen to an excerpt below and get a copy of the book here.
'Family Lore' by Elizabeth Acevedo
From the bestselling, National Book Award-winning author Elizabeth Acevedo comes her first novel for adults, the story of one Dominican-American family told through the voices of its women as they await a gathering that will forever change their lives.
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This month, we are also teaming up with Little Free Library to give out free copies in Times Square and at 150 locations across the U.S. and Canada. Since 2009, more than 300 million books have been shared in Little Free Libraries across the world. Click here to find a copy of "Family Lore" at a Little Free Library location near you.
Read along with us and join the conversation all month long on our Instagram account -- GMA Book Club and #GMABookClub.
FLOR had a tabulated ranking for the seasons, autumn being her least preferred of the climatic periods in North America. The dying season, for Flor, had always been worse than the dead.
She should have been taking her daily constitutional through Riverside Park -- despite the rain, she knew the lukewarmth would soon yield to frostier days -- but instead she found herself seated on the pink print couch, with the documentary.
She told it one way. The truth that was not the truth.
Flor often listened to her daughter speak of her research with one ear flapped closed. But the other ear, the other ear perked up anytime her daughter made an utterance in her direction. Flor wasn't entirely sure when she'd started looking to her child for approval, but these days she was forever finding herself trying to demonstrate relevance. Flor was not great at keeping track of all the rituals, myths, and performances humans had conducted from Mesopotamia del carajo to now, but Flor was great at worrying that only through sharing her daughter's anthropological interests would they ever become close.
"She teaches Dominican history at City College" was the answer Flor gave to people in the neighborhood regarding her girl's career.
(It was always hard for Mami to explain what I, Ona -- with my three degrees, mind you -- actually did for work. Mami learned that trying to explain that I studied sugarcane ruins and pre-Columbian trade routes, and everything having to do with Kiskeya between the early 1500s and to the mid-twentieth century, to a bunch of unlearned imbeciles (her words, not mine) would lead to neighbors shaking their head: My son has a job in bookkeeping, ja ja, easier than a job in books.)
But there was a documentary that Ona hadn't stopped talking about the entire summer. And so, Mami called her sister Camila to help her set up the Netflix, and put the captions in Spanish, and with rain insulating Manhattan in water, she watched the screen.
Un mexicano from Arizona or Colorado, de por allá, sat in a wheelchair while a long line of his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren lined up to pedirle bendiciones and whisper they loved him. She rolled her eyes. Just like a man, about to kick the bucket and still making his descendants kiss his hand. And before he was even in a casket! Her father would have never. She was considering sneaking a peek at her siblings group chat -- currently heating up with a discussion about Matilde's latest substitute instructor for the salsa class she attended -- when the man on-screen began to openly weep. His hands shook on his bastón when one of the littlest, must be a great-grandchild, stepped forward to press her little face against his knee.
Ah, Flor thought, not only to kiss the ring, then.
She finished the rest of the film without picking up her phone. Then she started it back from the top.
That night while she was parting her hair and pinning it up flat against her scalp, the bobby pin bit into her head with the same sharp prick as this new wondering. No. She couldn't. Could she? Flor sat up most of the night worrying the thought, the way a tongue will keep sliding against an inflamed canker sore, trying to soothe something unsootheable. What if she threw herself a living wake?
It was ridiculous, she knew. What would be the point of gathering her siblings, and nieces and nephews and distant cousins? To say what to them? There was no diagnosis to create urgency. No persistent cough to make them anxious. It would be selfish to gather her family for an end they could not perceive. She went to bed with this new adamance that the film had inspired absurd and implausible notions.
She woke up the next morning musing. And the morning after that. For over a week, Flor ground her teeth in sleep. When she caught herself layering her fantasies about a living wake into a pastelón de plátano, she stopped, her hands full of sticky sweet maduros, and left the casserole half assembled on the kitchen counter.
Flor had always carried the mark of death. It was known from the moment she was born and wouldn't stop crying that she had not been fully wrenched from the Before. It was the cry of a colicky baby, but one that could not be soothed by valeriana con flor de tilo. Only when dreaming did the baby version of Flor cease fretting, and then the child was even more frightening; she slept with her left eye halfway open, the iris flickering as if she viewed some silent film from it, drifting so almost nothing but the whites showed. Sometimes Baby Flor would wake with a start, a night-splitting scream torn from her throat. Some days she woke on a whimper. Eventually Matilde, the eldest sister, figured out that if the child was being held before she fully came to, she would settle down more easily into the realm of the wakeful living. Matilde volunteered herself to sleep with the baby tucked into her side, one finger held in the little one's fist.
From Family Lore by Elizabeth Acevedo. Copyright © 2023 by Elizabeth Acevedo. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.