Can you wipe out your family simply by wishing for a new one? And how do you get them back? These are the questions John Boggle must answer in this new fantasy novel by Gene Twaronite.
I really appreciated how Gene took the time to set up the story. With lines like "I didn't mean to do it - things just got out of hand" the first chapter was devoted solely to hooking the reader. The next several chapters introduced this crazy family and the events that led to the book's misadventures. It took a little too long to get to the meat of the story for my taste but the set up was interesting and funny enough that it kept my interest despite its length.
I see this as a great stepping stone book for elementary and middle school students as it deals with a lot of different content areas in a simplified manner. Not only is it a solid entry level fantasy story with a minimum of moving parts, but The Family That Wasn't also contains all of the elements of a quest: a hero, a search, mystical tools, signs, and a lesson that is learned by the end. It also contained hints of deeper issues (such as hints there was a funny uncle in the family) but it was done so in a very skillful manor in which it could either by glossed over or discussed in more detail quite easily.
The voice Gene lent to John Boggle was captivating. Not openly funny John's humor was in his turn of phrase and the book was liberally peppered with kidisms (moments that are funny simply because of how the kid responds to it).
Although, The Family That Wasn't is advertised for teens and adults it is definitely a book I'd recommend to elementary and middle school students. As a teacher I'd also recommend The Family That Wasn't as a read aloud book.