The Sourpuss Read Du Jour: Kinfolks – Lisa Alther

Thanks to the incredible lack of fiction selection (beyond Christian Romance/Amish Porn) at the Chillwack Public Library, I have taken to reading books in the non-fiction/biography section. This week’s read is a documented account of Lisa Alther’s quest to discover the tangled and complex family roots that anchor her family tree. Kinfolks (Falling Off The Family Tree) is an interesting read for anyone who is a history buff, is fascinated by the mountain folk in the Appalachian area of the USA, or also has a family that keeps secrets about origins and identities. Alther’s determination to uncover suspected Melungeon ancestry is met with familial contempt, a lot of shut doors, and pervasive secrecy.

Alther manages to keep my attention through out the book, although it is by no means a rapid, voracious type of read. It is informative, and I’ve gathered  interesting knowledge about a group of people that I had not been familiar with prior to reading her book. It satisfies my perverse curiosity about this region of the United States and it’s prevailing attitudes and behaviour. It lacks the “snort laugh factor” that I crave in a read, which is why my reading has been isolated to 20 minutes before bed, rather than carrying it around the house with me.

From 1 – 5 Stars on the Sourpuss Scale, Kinfolks gets: **** (4)


Citizen Sourpuss Book Rating Scale:

  • *  –         toilet paper grade
  • ** –        line the birdcage with it
  • *** –      meh
  • **** –    merits a re-read
  • ***** –  I’d own that

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