Published By: Kindle
Publication Date: 11th July 2017
Format: Kindle e-book
Price: Free with KindleUnlimited/£2.32
Karen and Kevin have a happy home, with two loving kids and a cat. It’s an idyllic setting, full of laughter and hope, until one Christmas when Kevin gives fidget spinners to each member of the family. He has no idea what destructive consequences this will have.
Getting kicked out of church is just the beginning. Within a year their daughter is in foster care, their son is in jail, and the cat is missing. An even more terrible fate is about to befall Kevin. Karen struggles just to keep it together as fidget spinners crumble the very foundations of her life.
Full of uncomfortable situations and sordid details, Fidget Spinners Destroyed My Family is a suspenseful dark comedy of paranoia, obsession, and this year’s hottest new toy.
I received an email several months ago from the author, requesting a review. The premise seemed amusing, so I accepted the request. I’ve finally managed to schedule a review for the book. I started reading it last Wednesday, and got a quarter of the way in before I had to do other things. I sat down on Monday afternoon to get more of it read and finished it instead. It’s not a long book.
It’s a very clever novel, masquerading as a simple narrative. Karen is a very unreliable narrator. It slowly becomes clear that she’s an alcoholic who is obsessive and paranoid about her husband. She’s convinced that he’s having an affair, and ignores all the evidence that her son has started taking, and dealing, drugs. To cope with their difficult home environment, Kevin, the husband, and their 9 year old daughter, Emma, have retreated to the basement where they make YouTube videos about fidget spinners. Slowly things start to get to the family, resulting in fights at church and Kevin moving into the basement. We see events through Karen’s drunken, paranoid haze. She’s convinced she’s better than everyone else, and has ‘settled’ for Kevin – a hardworking, intelligent and, apparently loving husband and father. She repeatedly accuses everyone else of being jealous of their family, and home. She’s clearly unwell. Late in the novella, a mention is made that she, or someone in her family has had mental health issues, and she rejects any suggestion that she might need help.
The writing style is engaging, and I found Karen just irritating enough that I was on edge, but not so much that I’d stop reading. I liked the way it unfolds, as the reader realises things aren’t as simple as the self-pitying narrator wants us to believe. The contrast between reality and the narrative brings in moments of humour as well as shock at the crass or paranoid behaviour of the characters.
The plot is simple, but the way the story is woven around the central plot makes it much more interesting, especially once the reader contemplates the whole story.
Definitely a good one to pass an afternoon with,