Twisted Family Values: A Novel

Twisted Family Values: A Novel

by V.C. Chickering


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An unpredictable and entertaining tale of secrets, desires, and forgiveness spanning four generations of an American family.

In WASPy Larkspur, New Jersey, social expectations and decorum rule, and Marjorie and Dunsfield Thornden are the envy of their neighbors. Their daughters Claire and Cat set the small town’s social calendar by throwing tastefully lavish family parties year round. Because it’s 1977, underage debauchery is to be expected—and Cat and Claire’s children, Bizzy and Choo, are at its very center.

Underneath their well-maintained veneer, the Thorndens are quite dysfunctional, but have always had their entitlement to fall back on. And while some are finally ready to accept what they’re willing to give up for the life that they think they deserve, secrets that should’ve never been kept—especially not from each other—are bubbling unattractively to the surface.

So when a scandal threatens to unravel this tight-lipped family and their secrets, the Thorndens will have to decide how much they’ll let decorum rule social mores dictate their decisions and how far they’ll go to keep some secrets just that. Any choice they make could mean freedom from expectations but will change the course of their family's legacy forever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250065292
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 06/25/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 735,975
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

V.C. CHICKERING has written for Comedy Central, MTV, Lifetime, TLC, Discovery, NickMom and Oxygen television networks as well as for BUST, Cosmo, and The Washington Post magazines. She's written screenplays; has a local newspaper column entitled, Pith Monger; and a blog. She lives in New Jersey with her family where she also writes and performs witty, original songs for the alt-bluegrass/indi-jazz band, Tori Erstwhile & The Montys. She is the author of Nookietown and Twisted Family Values.

Read an Excerpt



A sumptuous nursery in an upscale commuter suburb, Firth, New Jersey

"Don't you just love the smell of diaper cream?" Cat Babcock said, inhaling Desitin. "I loathe it," said her sister, Claire. "It's like exhaust from a New York City bus." They were checking on their napping children. Their mother had agreed to take the grandkids for the day. The two stay-at-home moms slash diehard volunteers were headed to their garden club meeting. Only Cat said "Aww," peaking over the wood railing of the Thornden family crib. Claire Chadwick merely glanced in as she lit another Marlboro. They're sleeping. We've checked. Let's go. Their toddlers, Bizzy and Choo, dozed soundly together, arms and legs unconsciously entwined. Dark wisps were matted to the little girl's forehead. The boy's diaper pin had unfastened.

As Cat repinned her son's cloth diaper, Claire yanked her daughter's pinky from his mouth. "Why did you do that?" whispered Cat. "They'll wake up. Are you nuts?"

Claire scoffed. "Choo has his own thumb to suck."

"What does it matter? They're sound asleep."

"I find it unbecoming."

"Bizzy's a ba-by. They're cousins, for crying out loud."

Cat shook her head. Claire exhaled a stream of smoke over the slumbering children, setting the mobile's wooden zoo animals in slight motion. "Well, then, it's unnecessary."

"Oh, for heaven's sake," said Cat, gently sweeping her niece's moist tendrils off her face. Claire was too busy in the mirror to notice her daughter's discomfort. A tall, raven-haired beauty with cobalt eyes and a dimple, she towered over her younger, boxier sister. Claire was told — ad nauseam as a teen in the fifties — she was the spitting image of Elizabeth Taylor. Deciding her looks to be the sum total of her value, she set a laser focus on them without distraction. Cat — nicknamed Cat-in-the-Hat as an impish child — was the shorter, curvier version of the Thornden sisters. She shared the same raven hair and dimpled right cheek but had a playful spark her icy sister lacked. Claire found no humor in Cat's pointless antics and dismissed her subpar beauty. Cat rebelled by becoming a real free spirit, cultivating an audacious, risk-taking personality; whereas, Claire remained immersed in lipsticks and creams, allocating her energy to social positioning.

"We're going to be late," Claire said, snubbing her cigarette out in the ashtray. She left the nursery in a snit. Cat stayed behind and whispered to her slumbering cherub, "You, my darlings, are perfection. Bizzy, your mother's a piece of work, and I will do everything I can to be your ally." Choo rolled over; his eyes fluttered as he burrowed deeply into his cousin's armpit. "And you, my sweet son, are doing wonderfully. Keep a low profile and we'll all be fine. Just, whatever you do, don't turn into your father. And Bizzy, don't you become your mom."

Before leaving, Cat clicked on the large box fan wedged in the window since mid-May. The rubber diaper cover Claire insisted Bizzy wear was clearly the reason she had been overheating. Appearances have always mattered more to her than people, Cat thought, deftly removing the diaper cover. Then she returned Bizzy's pinky to Choo's searching mouth. "You both have my blessing to behave as unbecoming as you want occasionally. Ignore her and have some harmless fun."



A well-appointed suburban kitchen, Larkspur, New Jersey

Drapes and patios, families and slacks — the citizens of tony Larkspur were cut from a prescribed cloth. Major appliances were endlessly updated and swimming pools de rigueur. Cat's turn-of-the-century Colonial had splendid white shingles, dormers, and black shutters. Her front door sported a worn brass knocker in the shape of a mallard duck. The knocker on Claire's house next door was a fox. The two stately beauties were separated by a tall, privet hedge, flanked by award-winning gardens that erupted every spring. Their combined eight-acre backyard, however, was open and continuous. It boasted a massive lawn, in-ground pool, hoops, and a trampoline. The homes' interiors strictly adhered to the mandatory design code of the day; among the approved colors were sage green, cranberry, orange, and shocking pink. More ducks and foxes repeated themselves madly on chintz upholstery and wallpaper, with the occasional smattering of crossed tennis racquets and geese.

"Do you think our children are weird?" Claire asked Cat while looking out the kitchen window. She bristled as she said it; the thought horrified her to no end.

Cat craned her neck to see all five Thornden cousins playing touch football in the sprawling backyard. Everyone was dressed in wool sweaters and hats for the annual New Year's Day game, with the exception of twelve-year-olds Bizzy and Choo, who were wearing Charlie's Angels wigs — Farrah and Jaclyn, respectively. Twenty or so assorted family friends' kids joined them, their laughter visible in the brittle, late-afternoon air.

"Which ones?" Cat teased, knowing full well. She didn't think she'd ever heard her sister use the word "weird" and almost asked if she knew what it meant. "Are we talking about Bizzy and Choo?"

"Yes. Obviously," snapped Claire.

"And what kind of weird are we talking? Adorable weird or depraved weird?" Claire nearly said, "Oh, for heaven's sake, they're only twelve, how depraved could they already be?" but didn't. Realizing she was being baited, she reached for her drink and another pinch of paprika. Her burgundy, high-waisted slacks set off her narrow, lithe figure, and Final Net kept her hot-rollered hair just so. Cat sipped her Tab as she watched her sister's thin outstretched arm. "You're not the queen of England, you know. You can stop anointing the eggs." Claire dragged on her Marlboro with the other hand as they worked in Cat's new avocado-and-orange kitchen. The appliances were also new — top-of-the-line Amana — and naturally preordered to match. The sisters readied the crushed nut–covered cheese ball and sprinkled paprika over six dozen deviled eggs. They'd been arranged magazine-perfect on porcelain platters as if this had been their aesthetic destiny all along.

Cat looked out the window just in time to see her son, Choo, pass the ball to Bizzy, who shoved it under her fisherman-knit sweater and dashed to the goal line made of plaid scarves in the snow. Their victory celebration was a spontaneous polka — something they'd certainly not learned in ballroom dance class.

"Adorable weird and I'm through talking about it," Claire said and drained her Mount Gay and tonic.

"How many have you had?" said Cat, nodding toward her sister's glass.

"Don't become one of those people who turns into a pill just because you can't drink anymore." Cat couldn't believe her sister would say such a thing. Then she thought, No, of course she would. Yes, she was annoyed Claire continued to drink in front of her after she'd entered AA a few years back. "Not my problem," Claire had initially said to Cat with all the sensitivity of an alcoholic herself. But Cat knew deep down Claire was right — it wasn't her problem to manage.

"Takes one to know one," said Cat, sorry she'd said anything in the first place.

Claire knew she'd gotten to her sister. Touché, she thought. We're even. "Relax, Friend of Bill W," said Claire. "Grab the clam dip and let's get these eggs out. They're not going to pass themselves. You've done a good job, Cat. Everything looks delicious. Oh, I added sherry to the fondue."

Claire helped Cat untie her apron, and Cat forgave her for being a judgmental harpy. Then Cat called in the troops while Claire put a cup of plastic sword toothpicks with the sausage balls. She reminded herself of what laid the bedrock for their long, productive relationship — their simpatico devotion to family and friends, an appreciation for art and culture. There was also the desire to create a storybook childhood and give their children a lasting legacy. It's why they'd bought houses next door to each other and created a communal Shangri-La. It's why they herded the cousins as siblings and forgave each other again and again. Yes, sometimes Cat grew annoyed by Claire's relentless party onslaught and occasionally tossed a few deviled eggs into the hydrangea for sport. But she went along with her sister's largesse so her kids would know the right people. She'd made a mess of things in her past and didn't want retribution visited upon the innocent. Nor could she risk any fallout from her secret. That, above all, was key.

The sliding glass kitchen door opened to a brood of loud, steamy children with opened coats and sweaty brows. "Rumpus room! Keep moving!" shouted Claire like a stage manager shuttling filthy extras toward the basement door. "Except for you two," she said, stopping Bizzy and Choo in their tracks. "I need you to pass these hors d'oeuvres to the grown-ups. Take off the wigs and fix your hair, both of you."

"What wigs?" said Bizzy.

"Where are your hats?" said Claire.

"We couldn't find them," Choo lied on the spot without remorse. They loved to needle Claire — all the cousins did. Bizzy added, "These wigs are wicked warm, Mom. You should try it! They're better than hats!"

"I'll do no such thing. And stop saying 'wicked.'"

Choo said, "Aunt Claire, if you want us to really sell the eggs, you should totally let us wear the wigs." He flipped his tresses over a shoulder and clasped two fingers to his ear, pointing skyward. "They're integral to our mission. Should we decide to accept it."

"Please stop saying 'totally.'"

"Oh, you're accepting it, all right," said Cat. "Take the eggs and find the microfiche. Go."

"Got it, Boz," said Choo, and reached for a platter. Claire grimaced, knowing majority had ruled. Cat shooed them toward the living room. "Good luck, Kate and Farrah. And don't come back 'til they're empty."

"I'm Jaclyn, Mom," called Choo with mock indignation.

"Sor-ry!" sang Cat with a chuckle.

Once the kids were gone, Cat said to Claire, "Okay, yes, Bizzy and Choo are slightly weird. How can they not be? They're our kids. We're weird, you know."

"Speak for yourself," said Claire, redirecting a curl already in place.

"And yes, they're joined at the hip, but that was our goal, remember?"

"They're a little too close if you ask me. They have no other close friends except that little bully Piper."

"You wanted this, Claire. They're best friends, so mission accomplished. And if you think that's weird, well then, that's sad."

Cat knew Claire wouldn't like hearing her darling Bizzy was weird in any way, but she said it, partly because she wanted to pull her sister off her high horse and partly because it was true and she wanted Claire to hear it. "Bizzy and Choo are the grandchildren of Marjorie and Dunsfield Thornden, for chrissake, keepers of the flame for all things precious and antiquated, drenched in tradition — for better or worse — wearers of pocket squares and daytime lipstick — raised by us, the Tweedledee and Tweedledum of Larkspur. How can they not be a little odd?"

Claire did her typical job of not showing the comment stung. "Please don't call us that," she said. "It's unbecoming." Cat felt sorry for her. Nothing had ever been able to make her content, not even her daughter's blithe spirit in the face of an unavailable dad and a critical, social-climbing mother. "Everything's going to work out," Cat consoled. "They'll grow up and go off to college and make lots of new friends. Even high school will be different, just wait. Life is short and life is long, like Mom always taught us. Let them be each other's best friends now. They have their entire lives ahead of them to grow apart. It'll happen naturally; let's not insert ourselves. And please don't be concerned with what other people think."

But Claire was concerned with what people thought. It was why she'd stayed married to Les for so long even though he was a morose, cranky drunk. He had a sterling pedigree and the money seemed bottomless, so Claire "hung in there," following her father's stern advice. Claire and Les had a son, E.J., who carried on not only his father's name — Ellister Junior — but also his insufferable cynicism and disposition. It was as if his "terrible twos" became the "terrible interminables." Local mothers whispered the apple didn't fall very far, etc. No one surmised Les was clinically depressed. There's no reason for this behavior, Claire thought — he could snap out of it if he wanted to, he's just not trying hard enough. Then, three years later, in 1965, though they'd barely exchanged a word, Elizabeth Thornden Chadwick was unexpectedly born. They called her Bizzy for her boundless curiosity. Choo was short for Choo Choo Charlie. Their nicknames implied a wink they knew their privileged lifestyle would tolerate. When one summered and skied with the right people, seriousness of purpose was incidental. A Benjamin could introduce himself as Benster with a straight face in a job interview for Lehman Brothers. And Lord knows how many debutantes named Cricket were revealed as Catherines on their wedding invitations. Bizzy and Choo were fine names and never disputed for a moment.

Claire folded linen napkins and placed them in a perfect tower of crisp white triangles. Cat thought about the original question. "Depraved" was a pretty strong word, conjuring scenes of illicit goings-on. Sexual deviance? Witchcraft? Nothing came to mind. As toddlers they slobbered in each other's spit, poked, bit, and grabbed daily. But the drama didn't deter them — each morning the previous day's infractions were readily wiped clean. In kindergarten their penchant for arguing resulted in seats on either side of the room. Their teacher likened the experience to directing an all-five-year-old cast of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? But by third grade their flair for drama mellowed, and they morphed into a secret society of two. Their private made-up language began about then. Sure, they could be secretive, and a big pain in the neck, thought Cat, but depraved isn't in the ballpark — not them.

Bizzy and Choo passed the deviled eggs to the hungry crowd of inebriated adults. Shocking pink and frog-spit green was the favored color combo of their social set, as pervasive as tasseled loafers, grosgrain belts, and endless scotch and sodas. Many of the men sported bushy mustaches and aviator frames, while the women used headbands to hold back their hot-rollered curls. Everyone contributed to the smoke, and ashtrays overflowed as abundantly as booze. The sound of rattling ice cubes underscored the laughter, which nearly drowned out the Bee Gees' Saturday Night Fever disco soundtrack album. No one danced because WASPs didn't dare until after dinner was cleared and everyone was good and plastered.

Cat and Claire's raucous holiday parties sealed their hostess status year-round. They were co-matriarchs of a genetic jackpot and inseparable as a social force. At private schools and clubs, their circle of friends and hangers-on emulated Claire, tolerated her husband, Les, and treasured quirky Cat. They were relieved when Cat divorced Dick and married sweet Ned, whom she met in an AA meeting after she first got sober. Everyone liked Ned right away and quickly forgave their infidelities. It was obvious they made a better couple, and not drinking only added to their quirkiness. It was rare new families were folded in, but occasionally, when it happened, it was understood the sisters' pull was indisputable. After initial introductions, the assessment was "Cat's the fun one and Claire's tough." Though it usually took years to see past the assumption. They were complicated women with a talent for making their lives look easy. No one thought to think otherwise, when they themselves were busy keeping up.

Bizzy and Choo's wigs barely got a reaction as they squeezed themselves between the well-heeled bodies of their parents' friends holding a small stack of cocktail napkins in their left hands, platters balanced on their right. Between gracious smiles, they conversed with each other over their shoulders.

Bizzy said, "Jeeze. Look at these kooks. I can't wait until I'm a grown-up and get to throw parties and get wasted all the time."

"Pretty sure there's more to adulthood than that." At least Choo hoped there was.

"Is there? You should tell them."

Bizzy noticed one of the moms' pregnant bellies being used to rest an ashtray and her bourbon, drained — drinking for two. "You know how I want to be a famous costume designer like Bob Mackie, right? And go on Johnny Carson and make millions?"

"And hang out with Cher. I remember."

"I also want to be a mom. Look how much fun they're having. After dinner they'll move the coffee table again and dance like crazy. Everyone's always laughing all the time."

"Our moms aren't," said Choo.

"These moms are. And your mom's fun. Aunt Cat can take a joke. Only mine can't."


Excerpted from "Twisted Family Values"
by .
Copyright © 2019 V. C. Chickering.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
1968: A sumptuous nursery in an upscale commuter suburb, Firth, New Jersey,
1977: A well-appointed suburban kitchen, Larkspur, New Jersey,
1984: Two fairly decent, liberal arts college campuses, Boston, Massachusetts,
1990: The cousins' childhood neighbor's tree house, Larkspur, New Jersey,
2002: Georgia's lush green front lawn, Firth, New Jersey,
2014: Claire's worn, out-of-date, sparse kitchen, Larkspur, New Jersey,
Also by V. C. Chickering,
About the Author,

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Twisted Family Values: A Novel 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Cat and Claire are sisters and mothers to a total of 5 children. They live next door to one another and share a very large back yard complete with pool, and other amenities for family entertainment. Even though they are sisters, they are not alike and harbor some animosity toward one another. Their parents are wealthy and dinners and holidays at their home are formal and everyone is expected to attend. It is the 1970’s and while Cat and Claire entertain quite a lot, the children amuse themselves in the basement. Biz, short for Elizabeth, and Choo, short for Charlie, are first cousins and best friends. They are constantly in one another’s company and even have a secret language. The children all sneak alcohol and smoke cigarettes behind their parents back. As they grow up, Biz and Choo head off to college and we learn about the friends they meet. They secretly love one another but know it is wrong and cannot be because they are cousins. The story follows the family members as they age and the secrets they keep, The time periods covered are well depicted and the fashion, food, music and customs are spot-on. There is lots and lots of drinking and some family members share their anger with one another. No matter what your age, prepare to laugh and cringe as you read this book. I laughed out loud as it brought back many memories of my days in the 1970s and on up. There are secrets galore and you, dear reader, are in on all of them. Sit back and have a great time as you read this book. I’m betting your best laugh will be awarded to Carl. Who’s Carl? He is not to be missed so grab a copy and have fun! Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
PennieM 9 months ago
This was an absolutely fabulous read which was just what I needed after the emotional roller coaster ride I was on after the last binge. This one was not only entertaining and outlandish but fun and captivating and fast-paced and witty. This dysfunctional family had me laughing my way through their lives. I definitely recommend this one and deem this the perfect beach read. Why didn't I tell you more about it? There is a perfect blurb that tells you about this book and I'm tired and not going to repeat :) READ THIS ONE! You will not regret it. **Received this ARC for review from the publisher via NetGalley**
Shelley-S-Reviewer 9 months ago
The title of this book is perfect, the family in this story is definitely twisted. And can I take a moment to say I absolutely love the cover!? Some readers may find this book funny, and there are some very humourous bits but I found it to be about a very mixed up family. It is filled with so many different aspects on life, the Thornden family is clearly dysfunctional. V.C. Chickering gives a clear message throughout this novel; it brings awareness to mental health, sexual assualt and alcoholism and it focuses on the effects it can have on people. This book had great character development, we see Choo and Bizzy grow from babies to adults. I didn’t like some of the characters in this story, but I felt like I knew them, they all had such depth and so much depravity. Twisted Family Values is such a well-written novel. It sheds a light on a not-so-great functioning family. It describes the struggles that the kids had to endure from their parents, who, in fact, did not take care of their children in ways that they should have. This book is enlightening to new topics and has emotional scenes where you can sympathize or empathize with the characters. This book shows the complexities of family life when the children are the adults and when the adults have made certain choices that at times seem selfish towards the children. On the overall an excellent read.
JM Free Kicks Fiction 9 months ago
Twisted is undoubtedly the right description for this book, but I loved every minute of it. The author perfectly captured every era (from the 70s to the present), and it was interesting to watch the characters develop (or not, in the case of Claire) over the decades. The plot was intricately woven and sped right along; the reader followed Bizzy and Choo’s story, but also kept up with how the rest of the family fared over time – I enjoyed how some of the characters reappeared in unexpected places (I’m looking at you, Foster). Ultimately, it was a story of the secrets that families hide and the damage that comes from doing so. I loved the humor and emotion. This book had it all, and I highly recommend it. Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and the author for a complimentary pre-release digital ARC of this book.
sincerelykarenjo 10 months ago
Twisted Family Values by V.C. Chickering was a very interesting read for me. I don't entirely dislike the novel, but just wasn't a thoroughly enjoyable story for me. Actually, I felt quite uneasy and uncomfortable at times. The story follows the dysfunctional lives of the Thorndens which to me seem absurdly crazy and whacky. It just felt too weird and too unsettling for me. I really had a difficult time with the narrative and I had to put it down a few times. The writing is good and the plot is well-developed, but I just wasn’t into it and honestly didn’t care about the characters enough to feel any emotions. In the end, I felt that the book as a whole isn’t enjoyable enough for me. With humor, secrets, scandals, and unexpected surprises, Twisted Family Values is unique, unpredictable and quite interesting, but the story and characters just felt too twisted for me. It was an interesting read and I'm sure there are other readers who'll enjoy this book, but I personally felt unmoved and indifferent. Unfortunately, this just wasn't my cup of tea. I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher, St. Martin's Press via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
LouiseFoerster 10 months ago
This was not the book I expected it to be. Sometimes that is a good thing. Other times, it is not. For me, it was impossible to connect with caricatures and to submit to assault with snarky cultural commentary that ricochets, vaults awkwardly, does not tell a story so much as it admires itself. Because I feel compelled to say something complimentary, let me compliment the author on capturing accurately the basement party action of bored teenagers. The drunken adults and the deviled eggs are also true to life -- only they are a lot funnier, less nasty, and much more delicious than depicted here. Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
teachlz 10 months ago
V.C. Chickering, Author of "Twisted Family Values" has written an entertaining, unique, sexy, witty,  dysfunctional family novel. This has almost the feel of a satire and dark humor. The title says it all. In this novel are deep family secrets, scandals, and is quite unpredictable. The Genres for this novel are Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, and Women's Fiction. The author describes her dysfunctional characters as quirky, complicated, complex and dramatic. This certainly would make a good soap opera or series. The timeline for this story is a period of about 50 years. Larkspur, New Jersey is where the story takes place. The Thornden family in an affluent part of New Jersey have many social parties and have priorities and expectations about the proper way to act. The two daughters Cat and Claire are as different as night and day. One sister is all about what is the proper thing to do and only cares what others think.  The other sister is kind and compassionate.  The two younger cousins  Bizzy and Choo are brought up to be close friends. BUT, not everything is as it seems to be. Is it? You have no idea!!! I recommend this novel for those readers who enjoy reading an unusual, quirky story.
paulalala09 10 months ago
I could not put this novel down! I found myself so wrapped up in the crazy, complex story of Choo and Bizzy that I kept reading until very late into the night. Theirs is a complicated love story of best friends and cousins, trying to reach beyond the taboo yet knowing it will affect their every move. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Momma_Becky 10 months ago
The cover for Twisted Family Values is quite eye-catching, and the blurb with its hints at secrets to be revealed appealed to the mystery lover in me. Unfortunately, that was the best of it for me. As a child of the 70's, I would've thought that I would be able to relate to some of the characters better, but the story goes a little too far over the top for me, and other than a few pop culture references, neither the people nor their actions rang true.There are secrets, this family is packed full of them, but without a connection to the characters, I couldn't find much curiosity for the revelations of those secrets. I don't read a lot of women's fiction, but I think it's safe to say that this wasn't the book for me.
Jolie 10 months ago
I wasn’t sure about what I was getting into when I started reading Twisted Family Values. I thought this book was going to be something like V.C. Andrews novels. I was wrong. Twisted Family Values was nothing like those books. Instead, this book was something different. I am still trying to figure out if it is a good different or a bad different. Twisted Family Values plotlines were sometimes hard to follow. I had a hard time following the main plotline. The number of sub-plotlines in each “chapter” would overwhelm me. I had to reread specific chapters to make sure I understood what was going on. I did like how the book was split up. Each “chapter” was a different time in Biz and Charlie’s life. There was childhood (up to 13), college age, mid 20’s, late 30’s, and late 40’s. It was interesting to see Biz, Charlie, and their family evolve and devolve through the years. The book discloses early on that Charlie was not blood-related to Cat and her ex-husband. I didn’t understand why Cat kept that information secret for almost 50 years. Her withholding Charlie’s parentage caused so much harm. I wanted to throttle her at points during the book because of that. I felt terrible for Biz and Charlie. Because Cat didn’t disclose that they weren’t related, they had to force to hide their feelings for each other. Which resulted in Biz becoming an alcoholic and Charlie being married to a woman he didn’t love. It was painful and disturbing to read. I did like that the author chose to show that good could come out of being bad. The last chapter of Twisted Family Values highlights this perfectly. I do want to add that I loved Ruby. Her reactions to catching Biz and Finn having sex was hilarious. Also hilarious, was her reaction to Charlie possibly being her father. The end of the book was nice, but it was too happy. Twisted Family Values was not a happy book, per se. I was surprised to see HEA’s handed out left and right.
heater_28 10 months ago
**I voluntarily read an early copy of this title courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review** Twisted Family Values is the second novel by author V.C. Chickering and the title really says it all about this book. We follow four generations of a family through several decades, starting in the 60's and moving through the decades from there. There is a bit of everything in this novel including exploring love, familial ties, taboo subjects and forgiveness. I truly was not sure what to expect when I began this book. I have to say that when I first started it, I wasn't sure if I would make it through the whole book. It started very slowly for me, but once I got into it, I did feel like I had to know what was going to happen. This book is not going to be for everyone. There are some family dynamics that some may not like and also some topics that could be triggers for some readers. I am glad I soldiered through this book as it was very well written and certainly made me think many times as I made my way through it.