The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray
Published by Berkley
Publication date: February 19, 2019
Genres: Book Clubs, Contemporary, Debut, Fiction
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“Boys and men are earth and stone,” my mama used to say. “But you girls, us women, we’re water. We can wear away earth and stone, if it comes to it.”
Althea is indeed the water in her family’s lives. She flows and maneuvers through obstacles and around immovable objects. Her principles are fluid as well, which is why, when The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls begins, she is facing prison for fraud. Her husband, Proctor, has also been found guilty, meaning their teenage daughters, Kim and Baby Vi, are going to need to live with one of Althea’s younger siblings. So, years after Althea raised her sisters and her brother, one of them needs to step up and take care of her family. But do any of them have the ability to do so? Or will the burdens of the past hold them down?
At its heart Care and Feeding is a story of family and, more specifically, women. The novel is told from the perspective of Althea, Viola, and Lillian. There is Althea, a black, successful businesswoman trying to negotiate the world of prison. Lillian, an interior designer, lives with her former mother-in-law. Viola is a therapist but her own demons mean she’s left her partner of 15 years rather than face them. Each is successful in their field, but in many ways, childhood hasn’t been left behind and its hurts, fears, and resentments lie closer to the surface than any of them realize. Until it all starts to come out.
There are no massive secrets in the novel, but Anissa Gray’s portrayal of these women—their lives, memories, contradictions, and choices—resonates deeply. She probes motherhood, sibling rivalry, our relationship with food, and expectations, in a way that hurts, but provides relief for being acknowledged. The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls tackles some rough subjects (including a plot point at the beginning of the novel I’m not sure I could overcome), but in a very real way with a contemporary sensibility. This is life.