Tuesday, December 6, 2016
I'll Take You There by Wally Lamb
Felix Funicello is an Italian-American who grew up in the 50's and 60's. His childhood claim to fame was his family's connection to the famous Mouseketeer Annette Funicello, a cousin. Felix had a typical Italian-American family. His father runs a diner, his mother stays at home but helps in the diner with the books. He has two sisters. Now, Felix is a 60-year-old man, divorced with one daughter, Aliza, whom he loves desperately. He is a professor on film and runs a movie club in his hometown.
One night while getting things ready for the club's evening viewing, he has the experience of his life. Although there have always been rumors that the old movie theatre is haunted, Felix never believed in that kind of thing. Now he encounters two ghosts, the most visible the ghost of the famous female director of the Twenties, Lois Weber. She now seems to be directing the story of Felix's own life and he is the first viewer.
Lois takes him back to his childhood and helps him to view the dramas of his life through the eyes of an adult rather than those of the child who was confused by what was happening. His family encountered family secrets that were kept from the children and mental illness. The secrets eventually came out and the family exploded as each individual resolved their own attitudes toward it. As Felix looks back, he sees the family secret against the backdrop of feminism as women redefined what a woman could do and be. The early pioneers like Weber may be forgotten but their legacy will be the changed way society looks at women.
Lamb concentrates in this novel, as in most of his novels, on the connections that make up our lives. He explores the concept of family and what we will do for our family members. The poison of family secrets and the damage they cause when finally exposed are highlighted. The changing relationships between men and women are another focus of this book. The reader will realize that our family is who we claim as family and that what is important in life is how we treat family and maintain our connections with them. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and family relationships.