Book Reviews

Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena

An interesting thing about my mother: She doesn’t keep books. She will buy them and read them, and then I usually get them. Sometimes, when we walk the book table at Costco, I’ll encourage her to get a book knowing that I’ll get it eventually. (Thanks, Mom!) That’s how I came to get Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena.

The Story

In this family, everyone is keeping secrets—even the dead.

Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there, and Fred and Sheila Merton certainly are rich. But even all their money can’t protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mertons are brutally murdered after a fraught Easter dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated.

Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their vindictive father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of the siblings is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did someone snap after that dreadful evening? Or did another person appear later that night with the worst of intentions? That must be what happened. After all, if one of the family were capable of something as gruesome as this, you’d know.

Wouldn’t you?

My Thoughts

I absolutely LOVED The Couple Next Door. I read it when I was first starting to get back into reading serious volume, and I couldn’t put it down. Made everyone read it, and I thought that Shari Lapena would become one of my new favorite authors. I read The Stranger in the House some point later, and it was a TREMENDOUS letdown.

If you know me, you know my rule of three: I’ll usually give an author three books before I write them off. Thus, Not a Happy Family was her “last chance” of whether I would continue reading her books in the future.

Spoiler alert: She gets to stay!

I love and hate reading books about affluent people and families. It’s something so outside the realm of what I can even imagine that it’s cool to read. But at the same time, it’s also a little bit sickening. That did detract from Not a Happy Family just a wee bit. I mean, the book is all pointing fingers at their siblings while whining about the millions of dollars they’re set to inherit. Icky.

However, as a whole, the book had plenty of twists. Plus, there was so much finger pointing that you had no idea where the blame actually rested until the very end. The characters were unlikable on the whole (especially the crazy aunt, good gracious), but it was enough that you were kept invested.

I’d say Not a Happy Family makes for a great vacation read if you’re looking for something interesting that also doesn’t take too much brain power.

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