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Customer Reviews for

Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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  • Posted August 16, 2011

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    Is our personality determined due to birth order?

    We all play a specific role in family dynamics whether we admit to it or not. Surviving the landscape of competitive family relationships, overcoming disappointment and jealousy is like walking on a minefield. You are placed by birth order in a position to control, submit, surrender, or dominate and some accept this as destiny while others break out and completely upset the familial apple cart.

    Keats Sedlak has always filled her role as destiny preordained but now she is watching her family meltdown as her parent parents' divorce, her father's mortality becomes very apparent, and the family home goes on the selling block. Keats has always had to live up to unattainably high standards with academic parents and siblings that blow her intellectually out of the water but this is perhaps one shove too many. Everyone seems to know what Keats should be doing with her life, and what will fulfill her need for growth personally. They tell her constantly that the man she has been with for 10 years is not good enough for her and their relationship a tad creepy since he is five years older and they started dating when she was 15 stunting her ability to explore other relationships.

    Keats has spent her life searching for something to fill the void that distant parents and self-consumed siblings were never able to while at the same time make her own achievements, not an easy task. She thought her boyfriend had taken over her emotional losses but now everything has the potential to be flushed down the toilet and Keats is deciding what stays and what is gone.

    If you stand still long enough and do not physically remove yourself from the situation you are in everything will remain as much the same as it does change. You have to be prepared for the ramifications and Keats thinks she is as she prepared to make major life-altering decisions that will affect everyone and not all of them in a positive fashion. So as Keats learns to accept her mother as a single woman on the prowl, her father's judgmental assessments, and her siblings' self-effacing personalities she is also ready to accept the fear and loneliness that comes from decisions and alterations to life's grand scheme of things.

    This is a well-written book with a fine-tuned sense of how complicated your family dynamics are and points out you are stuck with them forever so deal with it. You cannot rewrite the past, make your parent act less crazy, or walk away from any of their crap regardless of how many times you try. Everyone else's life looks normal and so much better than yours when you are on the sidewalk looking in watching them decorate the Christmas tree. You have to make your presence known and accept your role but also expand your existence and at some point put the baggage on wheels. It will be much easier to carry around and on occasionally dump off, I know of what I speak.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Katelyn Hensel for Readers' Favorite For whatever r

    Reviewed by Katelyn Hensel for Readers' Favorite

    For whatever reason, I've become a huge fan of audio books lately. I think it comes from starting a new job where I'm working 10-12 hours a day, and there just doesn't seem to be enough time to settle down and actually spend time reading. Instead, I listen in the car, while working out, and even while cooking.

    Keats Sedlack is having an emotional crisis. Unlike other girls her age, the meltdown is all about family. Her parents are divorcing, her dad's health is getting worse, and her family hates the guy she's been dating for 10 years. Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts is a fun and meaningful exploration of family relationships. Even though Keats is in her mid-twenties, the book has definite coming-of-age themes that really make her grow as a character. I loved it! 

    What I loved most was how funny the story is. You kind of get the idea that it's going to be fun from the title alone, but once you're into the meat of the story, Claire keeps you laughing, all while keeping things meaningful and sentimental at the same time. I give a gold star and a solid 5-star rating to Claire LaZebnik for her creative and sweetly realistic dive into the life of an American family.

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  • Posted June 14, 2013

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    I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me a bit of Running with

    I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me a bit of Running with Scissors--at least the "crazy family" part!

    This family has a redeeming member though and that is Keats--the middle child. She is bright, just not a super-genius like the rest of her family members. She, however, has social, organizational and other skills that help her navigate society more successfully.
    When her parents decide (rather, her mom decides) to divorce, Keats is the one who has to take care of the family, the house, etc. But then, she is always the one who get things done. Afterall, the other members of her family are too busy being brilliant to take care of mundane tasks like cooking, cleaning, and organizing a home. 

    Although the Sedlaks are intimidatingly smart, they are witty and sarcastic. There is a dry sense of humor that permeates this book that will have readers laughing out loud. In fact, Keats says early on in the book, ""I had discovered about a year earlier that the things that most embarrassed me about my parents could be turned into amusing anecdotes if told with the right sort of dry detachment..."" So even though I felt sorry for Keats at times and cringed at some of her choices, I cracked up more often than not reading this book. I think like most families, the Sedlaks love each other they just have a way of living that is unique to them & I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it. 

    I know this review is fraught with errors that would have any Sedlak reading it with nothing short of disgust, but I loved this book and I highly recommend it! 

    Reviewed by Joelle for Cocktails and Books

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2012

    Interesting and fun read....

    Quirky characters and a happy ending...what more could you want?!

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  • Posted September 11, 2012

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    Keats Sedlak has always felt inferior amid her brilliant family,

    Keats Sedlak has always felt inferior amid her brilliant family, and the only sane member. With a steady boyfriend and job, she's constantly being called back home to help the family. Now, her mother is filing for divorce and putting the house up for sale, her brother won't leave his bedroom, her genius sister refuses to come home and help, her father's health is slipping, and... she's starting to question her own life choices throughout it all.

    In one night, I read this start to finish. I was that engrossed. More a women's fiction with romantic elements, this books delves into the family dynamic, our innermost fears of mediocrity, and dares us to question what we truly want. With realistic and flawed characters, hilarious secondary characters and scenarios, this is not to be missed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2012

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