by Micol Ostow


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It is a day like any other when seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen hits the road for San Francisco, leaving behind her fractured home life and a constant assault on her self-esteem.  Henry is the handsome, charismatic man who comes upon her, collapsed on a park bench, and offers love, a bright new consciousness, and—best of all—a family.  One that will embrace her and give her love. Because family is one thing Mel has never really had. And this new family, Henry's family, shares everything.  They share the chores, their bodies, and their beliefs.  And if Mel truly wants to belong, she will share in everything they do.  No matter what the family does, or how far they go.

Also available in electronic book format (ISBN 978-1-60684-197-6)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781606843932
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/23/2013
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Micol Ostow has been writing professionally since 2004, and in that time has written and/or ghostwritten over 40 published works for young readers. Her novel, Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa, was named a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, and So Punk Rock (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother) was named a 2009 Booklist Top Ten Arts Books for Youth Selection, a Booklist Top Ten Religion Books for Youth Selection, and a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens. She received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and currently teaches a popular young-adult writing workshop through Media Bistro. She lives and works in New York City, alongside her Emmy Award-winning husband, Noah Harlan, and a French bulldog named Bridget Jones—who is thoroughly unimpressed by either one of them. Visit her at

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Family 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
EKAnderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel told in lyric verse will make your skin crawl.Of course, what else would you expect from a story based on the Manson Family murders?FAMILY chronicles the life of seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen from the time she leaves home, to when she is found on a park bench by charismatic Henry, and through her time with Henry and her family ¿ the young men and women who live on an abandoned movie set (¿the ranch¿) outside of L.A. Melinda, a broken girl having suffered abuse at the hands of her stepfather (and neglect at the hands of her mother) is easily charmed by Henry, and the love she receives both from him and from her new brothers and sisters. Henry is her father, her brother, her lover. He is God, a prophet, and it won¿t be long before he has Melinda and her sisters wound so tightly around his finger that they will do anything in his name.Micol Ostow`s latest is chilling, to say the least. Those who are familiar with the Manson murders and the cult surrounding them will find lots of similarities ¿ many scenes, as they say, ¿ripped from the headlines.¿ But the author takes the story beyond history, gets into the heart of Melinda, of the lost teenage girls who were Manson¿s victims. This is a book about the strength and fragility of the human spirit. And while a book like FAMILY is certainly not for the faint of heart, those who can handle a tough story are sure to be entranced by it.
lisagibson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow, this book! It definitely pulled me right back to the early 70¿s. Mel describes herself as broken and she has been through so very much. It was at times disturbing to see the affect Henry had over his ¿family¿. Further and further down the rabbit hole they all seemed to fall. How far will they all fall for the love and acceptance they crave so deeply? The verse it was written in was interesting and while it did switch between past and present, it seemed easy enough to follow. THis is one of the books on the Contemps Challenge. There are depictions of sex and drug use in this book, so be aware of that. I would recommend this book especially as a look back into history. Even though fictional, it's very realistic of that time period. This book was a taut emotional ride through a very haunting time and experience in America. I¿m giving it four kisses!
BookSpot on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Micol Ostow's family is loosely based on the Manson Family murders (and Charles Manson's cult) of 1969. family's main character (and narrator) is seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen a girl who's run away to escape abuse when she meets Henry (the stand-in for Manson). Told in free verse poetry, familychooses to examine Mel's past as well as her introduction to and life in Henry's 'family.'The 'family' lives together, sleeps together, eats together and shares everything. They gather food for their meals, wash the clothes, everyone has a chore, something to do.To really be a part of her new family--and succeed at leaving the old one behind--Mel has to take part in everything Henry and his 'family' have to offer.No matter how far they might go . . . or what she Mel might be called to do in the name of the family.Because family is told through Mel, we only get her perspective on things. She usually feels . . . disconnected or removed from everything, including that which is happening in her life. It's easy to see why a girl who had suffered abuse like Mel and left to be free, would fall in with Henry.Mel's disconnection from things makes sense given the situation, but at times it keeps the reader from really connecting with the story. We never quite get why Henry is so enigmatic and attractive to all of these people. Why it is that everyone's so willing to do what he is more a look at a girl in Henry's family than it is a look at Henry's (re Manson's) family. Readers do understand how (if not why) things operate in the group and the poetry gives a real sense of who Melinda is--and how she got that way, though. The glimpses into the way that the family operates, do give the reader the opportunity to see the little ways (that are not so little in the end) that members are controlled--the girls especially. It's Melinda's immersion in the family--and therefore her lack of reaction to most of these things--that while sometimes give them more impact, also the reader from finding out more.Those looking for a true telling of the Manson murders--or the people involved--via YA fiction, might be slightly disappointed. But if you go into family realizing how much of it is a story about a girl who thought Henry was going to save her . . . and then found the dark side to everything, it's a great read.MIcol Ostow's poetry is beautiful (and capitalization choices that I love). Even if you aren't one to normally read verse novels (YA or otherwise), do give family a chance.
kayceel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Soooo unsettling and upsetting, family is the story of Mel, a seventeen-year-old who's left her abusive stepfather behind and headed to San Francisco, where she meets Henry, a man the author has based on the infamous Charles Manson.famliy is loosely based on the Manson family and the murders the group committed at Manson's direction in the 60s, and is suitably dark and chilling. Henry, like Manson, is charming, charismatic and manipulative, and through Mel's free-verse narration, the reader gets an idea of how appealing his message of love and freedom was to such a 'broken' (her word) individual. Taking Mel's journey from relief at finding someone who claims to want to protect her to dawning horror at what she and the others in her 'family' have been sent to do is an unpleasant yet powerful journey.This story also made me wonder how close it was to the actual Manson family murders (pretty darn close - Ostow even includes quotes from family members' interviews), and as a result, I spent an evening reading many articles online about them. I'm sure I'm now on a couple of government watchlists...Recommended for older teens, due to drug use, and sexual and violent content.
emmylikesbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Family is in the point of view of Mel, a girl who defines herself as broken. Mel meets Henry, who she falls head over heels in love with. Henry brings her to live with his ¿family¿ on a ranch that used to be a movie set. Readers who enjoy the poetic style of Ellen Hopkins will enjoy Family, which is also written in verse. The book is loosely based on the Charles Manson murders and explores the cult dynamic.Honestly, this book creeped me out. The only word in the book that are capitalized are Henry and pronouns that are referring to him. It was chilling how the characters fall over this person because they¿re so broken that they don¿t know what else to do.Family is definitely a book I¿m recommending you read. Ostow¿s way with words and manipulating the story weave the book into a chilling tale that will leave you thinking long after you¿ve finished the last page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Answer the question
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was really difficult to get into this book. The format was a little strange, as well. To someone who has never heard of the Manson Family, this may seem like a compelling story, but to me it was just a retelling of actual events.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi remember me? from hamsters result 1. What are you guys doing?
J_ibbs More than 1 year ago
I first read this book about a year ago. Since then I have read it at least 12 times. I was a little skeptic at first, but towards the middle of the first chapter I could NOT put it down. I finished this the first day I bought it and is probably one of my favourites. The author did a wonderful job with this piece, it's very captivating and nice to see a view on the Mansons, other than what the media portrays. I have recommended this book to everyone I know, and I highly recommend it to anyone thinking about getting this book. It will NOT disappoint!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi...I got locked out of first result
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really hard to follow. The type.of verse that it was written in was definitely hard to understand.
Nikkayme More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars Family is one of the most disturbing and terrifying, yet oddly captivating, books that I have ever read. As someone who only knows the barest facts about the Manson family murders, Micol Ostow's take on 17 year old Mel's descent into cult life is haunting and creepy. We get to see her slowly, but surely lose herself to this notion of family; which is ludicrous and all kinds of messed up, but for someone who has come from so little and so much pain, it makes sense to Mel. I couldn't see the appeal or allure that Henry (the Charles Manson-esque figure) has. It's difficult to understand why so many people would follow him willingly and look at him like a Jesus Christ figure. Mel, Sherry, Leila, Junior, and all the people we don't hear from view Henry as a savior and a preacher. Ostow solidifies this fact with her episodic verse, having Henry's name, His references, be the only things that stand out with capitalization. It's to ensure that he reader knows, without a doubt, that Henry is running the show. He has essentially brainwashed these people, forced their lives to revolve around him, and has put them into a drug-induced stupor at times, to benefit His own wants and needs. Mel's life has become the Henry show and she's willing to do whatever He wants, whenever He wants. It's incredibly sad. Mel's life before Henry was miserable, but her life after Henry isn't really a step up at all. At times, I wanted to hug her, but then other times I wanted to slap some sense into her; yell at her so she could see what's going on, that she has been indoctrinated into a desolate cult that's only purpose is to serve this Henry. What she's experiencing isn't love and even though a part of Mel knows that, she doesn't care. Her desire to be wanted and accepted - even if it's false - overrides the voice in the back of her mind that's telling her not to trust her situation. Family is incredibly disturbing with its back and forth from the slow, despondent fall into cult life, to its hints of the danger that's to come. Ostow has taken a story that many have at least the vaguest idea of and expanded upon it, dropped the reader into an endlessly forlorn situation and done so splendidly. Episodic verse works in this situation, making each day more painful and fractured. Knowing that things are going to end in a bloodbath makes Mel's life that much more affecting and I was glued to the page.
adm912 More than 1 year ago
Told in verse it's a chaotic yet deep read. Loosely based on the Manson family it gives you insight as to how or why a young girl would fall into a cult.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago