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Tuesday Book: ‘Born Weird’ by Andrew Kaufman

Posted Jan 08 2013 3:59am

I loved this book. I was lucky enough to be sent a preview copy of it (thank you, Scott, who is also a big fan of this writer) and I pretty much started reading it as soon as I took it out of the envelope, and kept it no more than three feet from my left hand until it was finished.

I knw the marketing people will have sweated blood to get the blurb just right, so I’ll let them give you the gist of the plot:

The Weirds have always been a little peculiar, but not one of them suspected that they’d been cursed by their grandmother.
At the moment of their birth Annie Weird gave each of her five grandchildren a special power that she thought was a blessing. Richard, the oldest, always keeps safe; Abba always has hope; Lucy is never lost and Kent can beat anyone in a fight. As for Angie, she always forgives, instantly. But over the years these blessings have proved to be curses and ruined their lives.
Now Annie is dying and she has one last task for Angie, her favourite grandchild. Angie has to gather her far-flung brothers and sisters and assemble them in her Grandmother’s hospital room so that at the moment of her death, she can lift these blessings turned curses.

Sounds a little odd, no? Well, it is a little odd. And it isn’t. Because what I loved about this book is that, despite the Weird family’s unique challenges, there’s something achingly, astonishingly human about them. I don’t know if Andrew Kaufman is one of five siblings, but my mother is, and so I feel I can state with some authority that he has got the dynamics absolutely right: the blend of difference and togetherness, challenge and support that these characters offer each other is pitched perfectly.

And this book is funny. And it’s fun. And it goes all sorts of places you don’t expect it to. And the cardboard town thing is just beautiful. And it’s startlingly true, somehow, at the same time as it blatantly isn’t.

I commend it to you. You can buy it here . (Although I quite understand if you want to wait for the paperback.)

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