The Flying Troutmans

The Flying Troutmans

Book - 2008
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Random House, Inc.
"Min was stranded in her bed, hooked on the blue torpedoes and convinced that a million silver cars were closing in on her (I didn't know what Thebes meant either), Logan was in trouble at school, something about the disturbing stories he was writing, Thebes was pretending to be Min on the phone with his principal, the house was crumbling around them, the black screen door had blown off in the wind, a family of aggressive mice was living behind the piano, the neighbours were pissed off because of hatchets being thrown into their yard at night (again, confusing, something to do with Logan) … basically, things were out of control. And Thebes is only eleven."
–from The Flying Troutmans

Days after being dumped by her boyfriend Marc in Paris – "he was heading off to an ashram and said we could communicate telepathically" – Hattie hears her sister Min has been checked into a psychiatric hospital, and finds herself flying back to Winnipeg to take care of Thebes and Logan, her niece and nephew. Not knowing what else to do, she loads the kids, a cooler, and a pile of CDs into their van and they set out on a road trip in search of the children's long-lost father, Cherkis.

In part because no one has any good idea where Cherkis is, the traveling matters more than the destination. On their wayward, eventful journey down to North Dakota and beyond, the Troutmans stay at scary motels, meet helpful hippies, and try to ignore the threatening noises coming from under the hood of their van. Eleven-year-old Thebes spends her time making huge novelty cheques with arts and crafts supplies in the back, and won't wash, no matter how wild and matted her purple hair gets; she forgot to pack any clothes. Four years older, Logan carves phrases like "Fear Yourself" into the dashboard, and repeatedly disappears in the middle of the night to play basketball; he's in love, he says, with New York Times columnist Deborah Solomon. Meanwhile, Min can't be reached at the hospital, and, more than once, Hattie calls Marc in tears.

But though it might seem like an escape from crisis into chaos, this journey is also desperately necessary, a chance for an accidental family to accept, understand or at least find their way through overwhelming times. From interwoven memories and scenes from the past, we learn much more about them: how Min got so sick, why Cherkis left home, why Hattie went to Paris, and what made Thebes and Logan who they are today.

In this completely captivating book, Miriam Toews has created some of the most engaging characters in Canadian literature: Hattie, Logan and Thebes are bewildered, hopeful, angry, and most of all, absolutely alive. Full of richly skewed, richly funny detail, The Flying Troutmans is a uniquely affecting novel.

Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2008
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307397492
Characteristics: 274 p ; 14 x 21 cm


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May 31, 2017

Come on .... Thebes Rules! I was reluctant to read this book because of the uncomfortable subject matter but in the end it gave me much joy. I'm giving this 5 stars because it deserves a higher average score. One review said the " two children seem very disturbed " .... well I feel exactly the opposite . Despite what could only have been a difficult time growing up with a mom like Min ( In Winnipeg Anaconda ) , both kids have an amazing amount of life in them . I aspire to live as boldly as they do . I want to shoot baskets with Logan , take a few of Thebes' art classes and I definitely want her coaching my basketball team . Loved it and could have kept riding with them for many more klicks.

AliReads Jan 05, 2017

I wish this book was longer, I could have read about these characters for ages. Hattie was a wonderful mess, and both the kids were perfectly written, moody, troubled, sweet and hilarious.

Aug 06, 2015

I would recommend this book. The writing is excellent - humorous despite the serious subject matter. I also found the main characters developed over the course of the book.

Jul 18, 2015

I love Miriam Toews' writing - beautiful language usage. But, having read All my Puny Sorrows (and loved it) I found this book so much like it that my reading enjoyment was spoiled.

Jun 09, 2015

I just finished reading this book for the second time. It did not improve. The largest section of the book, the road trip to find the missing father, had such potential; but instead it felt forced and unlikely. A Complicated Kindness was such a great book, perhaps that is why I was more than a little disappointed with this one.

Jan 12, 2015

I really enjoyed this book. It was realistic, sad, witty, hilarious and it left me with a feeling of hope, not despair. Anyone who has a family member or friend with a mental illness is sure to find something to relate to in these pages.

AD_Library Oct 23, 2014

My favorite Miriam Toews title- so far! Incredible writing style, so fluid and impactful- really interesting story too!

A patron review from the Adult Summer Game: "A disappointing novel filled with despair. The mother is in a psych ward and her two children seem very disturbed. The aunt comes to look after the children, but seems helpless to deal with the situation."

Dec 11, 2013

As per usual Toews made me laugh, cry, angry, happy and horrified within the span of 300 pages. This author really is a Canadian treasure, she makes me thankful that there are still writers who are willing to be this raw about the plot line of this book. Can't wait for her new novel in '14!

Oct 16, 2012

Manitoba author, so there are many local references recognizable to ex-pat Manitobans e.g. Club Soda in Winnipeg. A fun dysfunctional family road trip book with a rebellious sulky teenager and a brainiac pre-teen involved, the teenager jargon will stamp it with a certain time and place. I believe there was a movie? I liked it, 2012, and now I really feel an urge to carve up the dash of every old Ford Aerostar that I see.

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Oct 16, 2012

spacecat thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

Nov 26, 2009

swisspurple thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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Mar 15, 2009

Yeah, so things have fallen apart. A few weeks ago I got a collect call from my niece, Thebes, in the middle of the night, asking me to please come back to help with Min. She told me she'd been trying to take care of things but it wasn't working any more. Min was stranded in her bed, hooked on blue torpedoes and convinced that a million silver cars were closing in on her...


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