Release Date: December 12, 2011
New York. In this city that never sleeps, anyone can make a brand new start of it. Or so the song goes.
For some people, starting again is no option.
Kenny is adrift in the city, tormented by the scars and memories of his unique upbringing as a child star in the UK, chasing any addiction that can fill the void he carries in his core.
Increasingly unable to paper over the cracks, to numb himself with street corner narcotics, or build an abiding relationship with his junkie soul-mate Ivvy, he turns to stealing cars to provide momentary escape from his increasingly desolate life.
Estranged from his parents, Kenny has no hope or vision of a better future.
Until one night he steals a car from a gas station in New Jersey and is offered an unexpected, final opportunity for redemption; a radically different role to play.
Family Rules is an intense personal account of an invented life, where all the rules of family are inverted, and of the damage done when the boundary between reality and television is truly no boundary at all.
I picked this up for a casual afternoon perusal, intending to read the slim volume over the course of a couple of days. Within the first few pages I was lost in the time warp that is brought on by a really good story. There was no way I was ending the day with Family Rules unfinished.
The story ricochets between the UK and New York, the 1980′s and present day, all narrarated in Kenny’s plaintive voice. He was at once a child who had to grow up too quickly, and an adult who never did grow up, suspended in a state of perpetual discomfort and discombobulation.
Kenny’s life as a child actor is central to the story, but surprisingly it is not accusatory. Throughout it all Kenny is damaged, but he is not deviant- a small, but important, distinction.
My biggest problem with this book was the inconsistent use of American and British spellings and colloquilisms. Quite truthfully, it is exactly the kind of inconsistency you would expect from a young man who spent his first years in the UK, then moved to the US with his British parents. I know this, yet I still found it distracting. What can I say? I’m nerdy that way.
My verdict: Read it! One thought I had as I raced through Family Rules is that it is what A Million Little Pieces could have been, had it been good. For all the over the top angst and drama spewed by Frey, he didn’t get it right. Tuckwood has managed to create a believable story that leaves us feeling both saddened and hopeful for the main character. It is still early in the year, but I have a feeling that Family Rules may very well end up on my list of top reads in 2012.