A Spool of Blue Thread

Thoughts asobtbyat by Anne Tyler, Alfred A. Knopf 2015, 357 pages

Challenge: Tournament of Books 2016 Short List
Genre: Literary Fiction
Type/Source: Hardback / Library
 Why I read this now: Both for one of my book clubs and attempt to read all the Rooster TOB Short List

FIRST Sentence:  Late one July evening in 1994, Red and Abby Whitshank had a phone call from their son Denny.

What’s it ABOUT: This is not very plot heavy so let’s see I how do here. This book is about a family with a father and a mother and their four kids; eventually there’s grandkids. One son, Denny, is the black sheep, but it’s not about him, really. I could possibly say it is about Abby. It’s an odd novel that I surely failed to appreciate for its strengths. Another character is the house the family lived it. Red had lived there most of his life; his father built it. We get some of that generation’s story, too. I can’t even pick out a favorite character. But Red’s mom is something else.

I wish I could find something exciting to add. Perhaps I have you curious? Perhaps you adore Anne Tyler and don’t really care what I think about it? That’s my hope. You can tell she is a very comfortable author with her craft.

WHAT’s GOOD: There is nothing wrong, per se. I found it rather boring. It did have a few good chuckles — observations about family, relationships and expectations.

What’s NOT so good: Me, I suppose. I cannot pinpoint what failed to capture my attention, why I didn’t fall for this more. I usually like character-driven family drama style books, don’t I?

If you’ve read this book and think you might have a sense of what kind of book I like, do you find it funny that I didn’t enjoy this more? I do. I actually think this would be the kind of book I would write if I ever find a story burning in my brain begging to be told.

FINAL Thoughts: I’m glad to have read it and I am most curious about what the judges will say in the TOB. I have this inkling that I will be able to agree with those that loved it but also identify with any faults found by those who didn’t like it.

I hope we have a wonderful discussion at book club! I usually do come away from our meetings with new appreciations. This is my most dedicated and focused club – we have a little bell to ring when the conversation strays away from the book which means that everyone usually has something to share beyond, “Yep, I liked it.”

PIE Mentions:

“What’s for dessert?” Tommy asked his mother.
Stem said, “SSh. Grandma’s on the phone.”
“Blueberry pie,” Nora said.

RATING: Three slices of blueberry pie.



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7 thoughts on “A Spool of Blue Thread

  1. I had really mixed feelings when I first read this, but I’ve liked it more and more as time has passed. At first, I just disliked the mother character so much that I couldn’t get into the book, but the way the final flashback stories at the end tore apart all the family mythology was very satisfying. I kind of wish it were in the same bracket in the TOB as The Turner House because the two books have a lot in common. Tyler’s is more polished, but Flournoy’s is fresher. I’m not sure which I’d pick. I’m leaning toward Tyler today, but I enjoyed Flournoy more while I was reading it. It would make an interesting comparison!

    1. Thank you! I don’t think I will make it to Turner House nor Fates and Furies. I might skip thru the second half of A Little Life and I am already planning on not giving the Martel due diligence. I really want to read the Techno book! Love the Rooster and I am amused at my mad dash to cram these in. Are you already anticipating the next year Tourney?

  2. I am a die-hard Anne Tyler fan, but A Spool of Blue Thread won’t be a beloved favorite. I enjoyed reading it for its literary merit (I love her style of writing!), but was emotionally disappointed by the loose ends and so missed opportunities for family members to forgive each other and love each other.

  3. I used to love Tyler but for some reason I have not been able to make myself pick up one of her books in years. Maybe because I had this same reaction w/ the last book I read?

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