Summary: When Layla Brennan married her high school sweetheart, Brett Foster, she finally got the big, loving family she’d always wanted: his. Now she’s closer to Brett’s parents than he is, partners with his sister in a successful pet-photography business, and confidant to his younger brother. She couldn’t be more of a Foster if she’d been born one.
There’s just one problem: Brett wants a divorce. Stunned and heartbroken, Layla turns to the Fosters for comfort, only to realize that losing Brett means losing them as well. What else can she do but sue him for the most valuable thing he’s got–namely, his family. Breaking up may be hard to do, but for Layla and Brett it’s even harder to undo.
Fresh, funny, poignant, and brimming with insight into what makes modern families tick–and what can blow them apart – Family Affair proves that in love and war, everything’s relative.
Review: I was a huge fan of Crane’s first novel Stupid and Contagious so I was looking forward to this book and perhaps had too high expectations. Not being married myself I had a little trouble connecting to Layla and Brett. Crane does a good job of making you understand their frustrations with the marriage, but their marital issues seemed to go from “he/she drives me crazy and annoys the hell out of me, but really I love her/him” to “I want a divorce” in about two pages without any real explanation as to their motivations. I found myself irritated with Layla from the get-go. She’s too perfect (which every other character reminds you constantly), a bit bland, and a bit too nice for my liking (what can I say I like my characters with a little bit of snark). Brett, on the other hand, is an overgrown man-child who whines about his perfect life and is fairly selfish. I initially couldn’t really side with either of them, but I think this was Crane’s intent. We come into this marriage already frustrated with each person and don’t really warm to the characters until later.
There’s a nice twist halfway through that you see coming, but I was surprised how it changed the entire course of the book for me and how I viewed both characters. I sympathized more with Brett and Layla and it thankfully gave them a reason to grow up and stop acting like spoiled children. I was a little disappointed that things wrapped up a little too neatly in the end, but I understood the motivations of Brett and Layla so it worked for me.
As with Stupid and Contagious, I enjoyed the split point of view chapters, but I felt like the POV chapters from the other family members and friends were jarring and unnecessary. Crane’s dialogue can get a little too heavy with exposition sometimes, but she captures the complicated dynamic that is sibling relationships well. I found myself wishing for more scenes between Trish and Brett who seemed to have the most interesting relationship in the Foster family.
Lit Snit Verdict: B-