What The Family Needed

Steven Amsterdam


What The Family Needed

What The Family Needed

  • Title: What The Family Needed
  • Author: Steven Amsterdam
  • ISBN: 9781742702117
  • Page: 165
  • Format: Paperback



Okay, tell me which do you want to be able to fly or to be invisible And so begins the tale of one particularly gifted family as it finds itself Following his acclaimed debut, Things We Didn t See Coming, Amsterdam lets each member speak, opening up an intimate wilderness From a mystified teenager to an over tired night nurse to a conflicted exile, he captures their s Okay, tell me which do you want to be able to fly or to be invisible And so begins the tale of one particularly gifted family as it finds itself Following his acclaimed debut, Things We Didn t See Coming, Amsterdam lets each member speak, opening up an intimate wilderness From a mystified teenager to an over tired night nurse to a conflicted exile, he captures their secrets over thirty years, the many voices revealing an uneasy peace The surprising strengths they each find show them how to change their lives and what the family needs in order to survive.


Recent Comments "What The Family Needed"

I don't know about you, but when I was growing up (and sometimes even now as an adult), I dreamed of having superpowers. The desire for those powers—of flight, invisibility, super-speed, x-ray vision, etc.—changed based on the situation I was in at the time, but I felt fairly certain that my life, or at least that moment, would improve significantly if I possessed those skills.When Steven Amsterdam's What the Family Needed begins, 15-year-old Giordana and her older brother, Ben, are the pawn [...]

Members of a family develop special abilities as they grow older and experience the mundane traumas of life. This is the central conceit of “What the Family Needed” an interesting, though flawed, collection by Steven Amsterdam.[return][return]Made up of an uneven set of short stories, “What the Family Needed” attempts to incorporate superpowers into a literary exploration of family dynamics and personal difficulties. In this way, it is similar to “Fortress of Solitude” by Jonathon Le [...]

I just finished narrating this. Now, no one has specifically told me that I shouldn't post reviews on books I narrate, but I generally don't, just because it's not my job to judge. My job is to give characters voices to the best of the ability. That said, I LOVED THIS BOOK. I say that loudly.There's a quiet gentleness to this piece that is deceivingly simple. The story is, actually, quite complex. It's told through stories that interconnect, through one family's experiences. And that's probably [...]

As a person who writes books about "normal" people acquiring supernatural abilities, I was intrigued to see Amstterdam's take. I was really disappointed in this book. I think he's probably a great writer, but not a great story teller. An entire family's history is told over thirty years. Each member has their own chapter which moves the time along, but also acts as kind of a contained short story (I used a similar device in my first novel- so I'm not against the idea.) However, the characters ge [...]

Non fatevi trarre in inganno dal titolo: non è un libro superficiale.Ammetto che inizialmente ci sono cascata anch'io: il termine superpoteri ha spalancato il baule della mia infanzia tirando fuori una serie di immagini legate a paladini della giustizia, calzamaglie fluorescenti, mutazioni genetiche e raggi gamma a profusione.No. Non non è così.Ritratto di famiglia con superpoteri è innanzitutto la storia di una famiglia normale, con tutti i problemi normali che un mondo, normale, possa gene [...]

Maybe 3.5. This is a set of connected vignettes, each telling a story from the life of one member of a family. The gimmick is that each family member has some sort of super power. Amsterdam does a great job of keeping everything pretty low-key in spite of the Incredibles-ish setup, and the book is really about the challenges of families and how love makes you want to fix everything that goes wrong in people's lives. I really loved Amsterdam's first book, which had a similar structure, but the di [...]

Picked it up by chance. But had a wonderful time reading it. It is about two family. There are totally seven members. And the 7 chapters in the book are dedicated to each member of the family. Each member is with a supernatural power (eg: able to be invisible, able to fly, ability to be a cupid, etc.). But then through the narration of each one's character the story evolves and you begin loving the story more and more as it progresses. In simple words, to me, it is a book on human relationships [...]

Should be 4.5 stars, and only because I need to hang on to half a star for Mr Amsterdam's next book, which will doubtless be even better. I think he's great. I also think my reasons for thinking so are entirely irrational and thoroughly tied up with what I like. So if you like what I like, you'll like this, and a lot.

Erano tutti separati, sparpagliati come pianeti, senza che nessuno chiedesse all'altro se andava bene così. Sfido qualsiasi lettore a guardare la copertina di questo romanzo, a leggerne il titolo e a non pensare di avere tra le mani la versione romanzata del celebre lungometraggio Pixar Gli Incredibili. In realtà basta leggere la quarta di copertina per rendersi conto che così non è, ma evitate di farlo perché la casa editrice non si fa remore nel palesare alcuni elementi del romanzo che, t [...]

Amsterdam’s second novel is an exceptionally moving work of magic realism. The destinies of two families are intertwined over three generations. Fleeing from her alcoholic husband, Ruth finds refuge at the home of her nurturing sister, Natalie. With her are her teenaged son and daughter, Giordana and Ben. Natalie and Peter have two sons, Sasha and his endearingly goofy younger brother, Alek. The plot proceeds with startlingly (intentionally disconcerting) leaps in time. Over the next three dec [...]

I was surprised that I liked this book enough to give it 5 stars after reading some of the ratings on and amazon but, being a stickler for super-powered stories, I knew I wanted to read it anyway. This is an endearing story of one family who grow into their own unique abilities that compliment their struggles. There are no bad guys to battle, no comic-book action sequences, but simply a story of using one's gifts to interact and cope with their lives at the point they needed the most support a [...]

If you could choose a superhuman power, what would it be? Invisibility, telepathy, flying, persuasiveness, or the ability to rewrite events as people wish? And will these powers make your life and the lives of your friends and family better?In this novel, nominated for the 2012 Age book of the year, each member of a typical suburban family discovers that they posses a superhuman talent, which they use to help themselves, their friends and the other members of the family to cope with all the usua [...]

There were a few things I liked a lot about this book but also a lot of things I found lacking. The way it was written in multiple stories from different points of view over 30 years was nicely done and made the book interesting. I enjoyed reading about all the different powers and how the characters used them in their day to day life. However, I wish the consequences of those powers had been touched on more. After the chapter in which the power surfaced, they're never really mentioned again. (o [...]

What The Family Needed, by Melbourne-based American author Steven Amsterdam, centres around sisters Natalie and Ruth and their families. Ruth has just left her husband and has taken herself and her kids, Giordana and Ben, to stay with Natalie while she gets the basics of a new life together. We learn this through Giordana, the narrator of the first chapter. When she arrives with her mother at Natalie’s, her cousin Alek asks “tell me which you want: to be able to fly or be invisible?” Giord [...]

An interesting take on 'super powers' without turning the characters into heroes. The book follows an extended family through many years as each acquires a special ability that helps them through their life. The book is divided into individual stories of family members as they age and acquire their powers. The one main aspect of the stories is Alek who seems to have been able to give his family members their unique gifts. I would have given more stars, but I found the book to be a bit confusing, [...]

they had me at the "incredibles" reference - anything with normal people getting superpowers is awesome, in my mind. i liked the use of the passage of time (really interesting, considering my last book was kate atkinson's life after life, where time is a huge variable too). it was hard for me to suspend disbelief that multiple people wouldn't be 1) completely freaking out upon this discovery and 2) not tell anyone else about itonce you get over that, the story is really engaging, especially when [...]

I know it is wrong to compare books, but I cannot help it: I read this in close proximity to reading Things We Didn't See Coming and I much preferred Things. But then, I do have a soft spot for post-apocalyptic survival stories.This was certainly very good, and Steven Amsterdam writes people and relationships very well. The voices did all seem fairly similar but the ideas were very intriguing. Of course, reading novels about people have supernatural powers make me wonder what mine would be. What [...]

You have to admire a writer who comes up with an original idea and then manages to sustain it through an entire novel. What the Family Needed (Sleepers Publishing 2011) by Steven Amsterdam is a beguiling take on the version of the family with superhuman powers – think The Incredibles but with literary aspirations. In this family drama / speculative fiction hybrid, we are taken on a journey over the decades with this family, each section from the point of view of a different character. It is th [...]

I thought this book was fantastic. It reads like a collection a short stories: each section tells the story of one family member who suddenly develop super-powers. While the individual stories were interesting on their own, the final story wraps up all the threads in a beautifully written way. I really enjoyed this and would recommend it. Magical realism done properly

What the family needed. Probabilmente andava letto in originale. Il titolo italiano è - come spesso - molto fuorviante. Che malinconia!

What the Family Needed is the exhilarating second novel by New Yorker-cum-Melbourner, Steven Amsterdam. This had been on my to-read list for a while. It never left my radar because its speculative fiction premise – an ordinary family with superpowers – had me intrigued. What the Family Needed has received a few superficial comparisons to The Incredibles, and while I wouldn’t say that’s entirely off the mark, I do think it’s a somewhat dismissive assessment, one that ultimately sells Am [...]

What the Family NeededI needed it in hardcover before I got to page five. Before we even meet the family, it has cracked, and part of it is moving away to a sister’s house in paradisiac suburbia. Instantly, we realize this book’s universe did not begin on page one; it reaches far before it. We don’t even see Ruth pile her children into her blue hatchback, and leave her husband looking down (or not looking at all) at them as they take off. By they time they arrive at Natalie’s peaceful ho [...]

3.5 stars I really liked this book. It got a bit boring towards the end but I made it through. It was just a very nice and simple book about the struggles of being a family.

I enjoyed Steve Amsterdam’s award winning, apocalyptic, climate change novel Things We Didn’t See Coming, so I was quick to purchase a copy of What the Family Needed. Calling Things We Didn’t See Coming a novel might be bit of a misnomer as it is a collection of short novellas. But they all feature the same character and are told in chronological order. Amsterdam uses the same technique with What the Family Needed, but this time each story is told from the viewpoint of a different characte [...]

Deux familles liées par deux sœurs.Sept petits chapitres qui dépeignent la vie de ces deux familles.Giordana ouvre le bal avec ses souvenirs de jeunesse ; le jour où elle a découvert qu’elle pouvait devenir invisible. Puis Natalie, Ben, Ruth, Sasha, Peter et Alek dévoilent petit à petit leur histoire et leur pouvoir magique. Chacun à sa façon et à travers son passé va raconter l’histoire de cette famille de la plus tendre enfance (Alek avait 7 ans) jusqu’à la mort de l’un d [...]

Steven Amsterdam's novel, What the Family Needed plays with the idea of having a superpower get you through a tough time in your life. Each chapter in Amsterdam's novel focuses on a different family member and the time in which they received their super power. The powers are not something that the characters receive with surprise. It's more like it's something necessary to help them. It's this lack of surprise that helped with the plausibility and allowed me to just go along for the ride. It wou [...]

When I read the blurb of this book where a young boy asks whether you want to fly or be invisible I was very intrigued. Steve Amsterdam’s book combines this fantasy question of superpower with the practicality of using it to help your family. In concept, it would seem similar to mothers getting superhuman strength when the life of their child is in danger (lifting cars etc.) However, Amsterdam uses a more subtle approach. Each member of the family has a superpower that helps them in moments of [...]

"What The Family Needed" is a tricky one to review. It probably deserves half a star more, but I'm fine with what I've rated it. This was read immediately after Andrew Kaufman's "Born Weird," which I greatly adored, so by having a similar theme involving a dysfunctional family with supernatural powers, there was no escaping the comparison between the two.In the end, this lost out in the comparison. I had to put it on the back-burner to read others but at the same time, I felt I had to come back [...]

Melbourne author Steven Amsterdam came to international attention in 2009 with the publication of his first book, Things We Didn’t See Coming which won The Age Book of the Year and was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. This second novel, What the Family Needed shows no signs of Second Book Syndrome: his style is inventive and playful. That playfulness, and the sense that there might be liberating alternate realities reminds me of John Banville’s The Infinities (see my review), an [...]

This is a story about a family that is much like any other family. The story spans the lives of numerous family members as they learn to cope with life. What makes this family different from others is that each of the members of the family develops a super power--just when he or she seems to need it most. The powers really do seem to reflect just what the family needed.The book's chapters are each focused on one member of the family. While the focus is on that particular family member, each chap [...]


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    Published :2018-08-12T16:12:52+00:00