Born Weird by Andrew Kaufman
By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis
Author: Andrew Kaufman
Format: Trade Paperback, 280 pages
Publisher: Random House Canada
Pub Date: December 26, 2012
Born Weird by Andrew Kaufman is a light-hearted fictional tale about a creative and quirky family named The Weirds after a misspelling of the original name of their ancestor, Sterling D. Wyird, in the process of emigrating from England to Canada.
It’s a story of the grown children’s quest to gather themselves together to meet their grandmother who they all cynically refer to as the Shark, before the deadline of her own prophetic death.
Why must they do this? Because much to what they’ve guessed about themselves, their grandmother reaffirmed their beliefs about being “cursed” with special gifts they each received from her and promises to lift each curse upon her death.
Though the premise of the story sounds absurd, its telling is easily readable and entertaining enough for the reader to be drawn into its fantastical plausibility and magical realism.
The Weird Family consists of intelligent, witty, and creative, imaginative siblings, though different in personality, are all bound by the sentimental act of building a model city together as children from cardboard boxes and their vivid imagination—and also by the trauma of an absent father who is tragically killed in a car accident.
The five siblings—Richard, is given the ability to keep himself safe; Lucy, is never lost; Abba, never loses hope; Angie, is given the power to forgive anyone, anytime; and Kent, has powerful physical strength in order to defend himself.
And while these “gifts” appear as blessings, the bearers are hindered and bound by the absolutism of them, and the gifts essentially become a curse, which the author and the book’s characters themselves call “blursings.”
It’s in their quest to search out and gather each sibling together to make the deadline of visiting their dying grandmother that they’re able to cope and come to terms with not only the confusion and frustration of their individual gifts, but to also face the mental deterioration of their mother who lives in a janitorial closet in a nursing home, as well as the mysterious nature of their father’s missing body.
The pacing of the story moves well while the humour of the dialogue and the quirky characters make this book a fun, light-hearted read even though the underlying story itself is thoughtful and dramatic. Andrew Kaufman is a talented writer who can transform the “weird” elements of life, reflect them creatively and realistically through his characters and plot, put it all together, and make it as an entertaining read as it is tender and heartfelt.
This is a creative, imaginative, and humorous little book—packed with the hope of transformation, redemption, and acceptance—even if it means a little more “magic” than most!
A special thanks to Random House of Canada for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an unpaid and honest review.
If you could choose which “gift” to be “cursed” with, what would you choose and why?