Nuclear Family
From filmmaker and New Yorker contributor Susanna Fogel comes a comedic novel about a fractured family of New England Jews and their discontents, over the course of three decades. Told entirely in letters to a heroine we never meet, we get to know the Fellers through their check-ins with Julie: their thank-you notes, letters of condolence, family gossip, and good old-fashioned familial passive-aggression.Together, their missives - some sardonic, others absurd, others heartbreaking - weave a tapestry of a very modern family trying (and often failing) to show one another they care.The titular "Nuclear Family" includes, among many others:A narcissistic former-child-prodigy father who has taken up haiku writing in his old age and his new wife, a traditional Chinese woman whose attempts to help her stepdaughter find a man include FedExing her silk gowns from Filene's Basement.Their six-year-old son, Stuart, whose favorite condiment is truffle oil and who wears suits to bed.Julie's mother, a psychologist who never remarried but may be in love with her arrogant Rabbi and overshares about everything, including the threesome she had with Dutch grad students in 1972.

Nuclear Family Details

TitleNuclear Family
Author
FormatPaperback
ReleaseJul 18th, 2017
PublisherHolt McDougal
ISBN1250165237
ISBN-139781250165237
Rating
GenreFiction, Humor, Funny

Nuclear Family Review

  • SibylM
    July 1, 2017
    4.5 starsI love a good epistolary novel, so was thrilled to win this book as a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you to Goodreads and the publisher. An honest review was requested.Although it is billed as "a tragicomic novel," I found it more comic than tragic. This is a very charming and witty novel that takes the heroine, Julie, from early adolescence all the way through her mid-30's, dealing with a bizarre and diverse family, as well as her own career struggles and romantic foibles. Julie's mom was p 4.5 starsI love a good epistolary novel, so was thrilled to win this book as a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you to Goodreads and the publisher. An honest review was requested.Although it is billed as "a tragicomic novel," I found it more comic than tragic. This is a very charming and witty novel that takes the heroine, Julie, from early adolescence all the way through her mid-30's, dealing with a bizarre and diverse family, as well as her own career struggles and romantic foibles. Julie's mom was particularly endearing to me, probably because she reminded me so much of my own mom, with her struggles with technology and conviction that the geniuses at the Apple Store can fix everything.I would have liked to learn more about Julie's thoughts and feelings. We never hear from her (directly), and that is plainly exactly what the author intends. On the one hand, the whole premise of the book feels like it would be ruined if we had Julie's point of view. On the other hand, it was still frustrating to see Julie mostly as merely the reflection of the lives and words of other people in the book (and other narrators entirely, including a gerbil and a treadmill).Overall a delightful read -- very entertaining and very well-written.
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  • Abdi Nazemian
    July 18, 2017
    This book is laugh-out-loud funny, but the humor is always grounded in the kind of family dynamics we can all relate to. I had read some of the letters contained here in The New Yorker, and loved them there, but when read together as a tragicomic novel, their impact is deeper and funnier for it. You'll tear through it, and then you'll probably want to give it to someone in your own nuclear family.
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  • Lori L (She Treads Softly)
    May 21, 2017
    Nuclear Family: A Tragicomic Novel in Letters by Susanna Fogel is a very highly recommended, hilarious, wonderfully quirky, entertaining debut novel. I loved and adored it!This epistolary novel is a collection of letters/emails written to Julie by her dysfunctional, fractured Jewish family, as well as a few surprising sources that don't normally write letters. We never actually hear directly from Julie, but we meet her through what her family has written to her. The letters begin when Julie is a Nuclear Family: A Tragicomic Novel in Letters by Susanna Fogel is a very highly recommended, hilarious, wonderfully quirky, entertaining debut novel. I loved and adored it!This epistolary novel is a collection of letters/emails written to Julie by her dysfunctional, fractured Jewish family, as well as a few surprising sources that don't normally write letters. We never actually hear directly from Julie, but we meet her through what her family has written to her. The letters begin when Julie is a teen and end when she is in her mid-thirties and publishing a book about her family. Most letters are from her younger sister, Jane, and her mother, but her father, grandmother, uncle, and other family members also write.The letters all have a title/heading. Here are some examples: "Your Sister, Who has Questions about Your Uncle Ken's Lifestyle, Has a Great Idea for His Birthday Gift"; "Your Grandma Rose Is Still Not Feeling This E-mail Thing"; "Your Stepmother Has Some Theories about Why You're Still Single"; "Your Dad, Who Asked Your Last Boyfriend If He Watches Porn, Is Wondering Why He Hasn't Met Your New Guy"; "Your Mother's Goddaughter, Who Crashed with You for Many Days, Is Sorry She Didn't Have Any Time to Hang Out"; "Your Dad, Who Lacks Boundaries, Wants to Talk about Your Body"; "Your Dad's Six-Year-Old Son from His Second Marriage Discusses His Superior Childhood"; "Your Mom has Some New Judgements She'd Like to Share"; "Your Mom is having Some Issues with Regularity"; "Your Sister, Who has Two Exes in Jail, Agrees That You Gotta Do You."I loved every minute spent reading Nuclear Family! It is clever and humorous, from the titles to the letters themselves, and I laughed aloud through the whole novel. The titles preceding the letters can be just as comical as the letters themselves. The letter writers are clearly clueless as to what their letters are actually conveying and often over-sharing. Each family member has their own voice when writing, for example Jane writes her letters in text-speak, which adds a clever layer to the mix. You'll be surprised at how much of a story these letters tell about Julie's life - enough that you might want to look back at your own correspondence to see what stories are hidden there.Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Henry Holt & Company via Library Thinghttp://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2017/0...
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  • Emilie
    June 28, 2017
    I am a big fan of epistolary novels (aka books written in the form of a series of letters, emails, etc), as I find them to be quick and easy reads, and this book was in fact that. There is decent character development through the series of communication between mostly family and some friends with one central character (the only character who I feel the author failed to develop), and the story is both humorous yet relatable. The only parts I could have done without were the letters from inanimate I am a big fan of epistolary novels (aka books written in the form of a series of letters, emails, etc), as I find them to be quick and easy reads, and this book was in fact that. There is decent character development through the series of communication between mostly family and some friends with one central character (the only character who I feel the author failed to develop), and the story is both humorous yet relatable. The only parts I could have done without were the letters from inanimate objects (which I believe the author knew would turn some people off, based on the final letter from the father to the main character). All in all, if you enjoy this form of novel, I don't think you'll be disappointed by this book. *I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley*
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  • Dan Herman
    April 29, 2017
    I'm usually wary of epistolary novels - in the back of my head, English lit canon snoozefests loom large. No worries about that here, as the novel is both good and an excellent use of the form - I don't think the same story could have been told this well any other way. Nuclear Family is thoroughly modem and consistently funny. It builds really well, using a number of different narrators (live, dead and inanimate) to advance the stories and characters, each imbued with a unique voice. Definitely I'm usually wary of epistolary novels - in the back of my head, English lit canon snoozefests loom large. No worries about that here, as the novel is both good and an excellent use of the form - I don't think the same story could have been told this well any other way. Nuclear Family is thoroughly modem and consistently funny. It builds really well, using a number of different narrators (live, dead and inanimate) to advance the stories and characters, each imbued with a unique voice. Definitely worth a read.
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  • Lori
    April 14, 2017
    I’m so glad I took a chance on this debut novel! It was a thoroughly entertaining read, the funniest book I’ve read in a long time. I’ve always liked epistolary books, and it somehow was even more fun only reading one side of the correspondence and trying to fill in the blanks for the main character. The book had a great cast of characters, sometimes stereotypical, but with an original twist here and there. This was a refreshing change of pace for me, and I highly recommend the book.
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  • R Z
    June 29, 2017
    I am so, so glad that won this book in a goodreads giveaway! I laughed out loud for the first time on the third page, and burst out into sporadic fits of giggling throughout the rest of it. Fogel writes with such sardonic humor— and each of the characters in the family (including the elusive Julie, our never heard from protag who we simultaneously feel a kinship to and as though we are her, which is a lovely combo that is difficult to pull off; Fogel did it very nicely) has their own quirks, neu I am so, so glad that won this book in a goodreads giveaway! I laughed out loud for the first time on the third page, and burst out into sporadic fits of giggling throughout the rest of it. Fogel writes with such sardonic humor— and each of the characters in the family (including the elusive Julie, our never heard from protag who we simultaneously feel a kinship to and as though we are her, which is a lovely combo that is difficult to pull off; Fogel did it very nicely) has their own quirks, neuroses, and idiosyncrasies that don't overwhelm the reader, but instead feel entirely natural to real humans. Fogel manages to write over-the-top, yet highly realistic, characters without making them feel like characters at all. The only character who I found myself not really liking by the end, was Julie's father— but I suppose there has to exist at least one person in life (or in a novel) that you just don't like, or was seemingly insufferable, and he is that character to me. (This is, of course, discounting a myriad of secondary characters, most of whom seem to be just insufferable.) I have to give this novel a five-star rating— it was one of the funniest books I've read in quite some time and, as it's a quick read, I'll probably find myself reading it again at some point when I need a laugh.
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  • Sasha
    May 27, 2017
    This novel is told entirely through letters to Julie from her family and some, uh, not family. We hear from her oblivious, condescending father, well-meaning and passive-aggressive mother, hot cousin, gun-happy sister who is leap-frogging across retail jobs, her mother's bitchy goddaughter, her grandmothers, and so many more who have wisdom to share. You track Julie's life (very quickly) through her childhood, college years, early adulthood in LA, and into her late thirties, through her failures This novel is told entirely through letters to Julie from her family and some, uh, not family. We hear from her oblivious, condescending father, well-meaning and passive-aggressive mother, hot cousin, gun-happy sister who is leap-frogging across retail jobs, her mother's bitchy goddaughter, her grandmothers, and so many more who have wisdom to share. You track Julie's life (very quickly) through her childhood, college years, early adulthood in LA, and into her late thirties, through her failures and triumphs, good things and disappointing things. I loved the format, the fun voices of each letter, the snarky titles, like "Your Sister, Who is Sleeping with Her Supervisor at T.J. Maxx, Needs a Favor", and the emotional resonance of may episodes of her and the ones in her life. I picked up the book for the title, cover, and fun description. It completely delivered, with a bonus of magical realism sprinkled in just enough to be interesting. I wish it had strayed a little more from the parental stereotypes and the black and white depictions of some of the characters, but I don't hold it against the book. I really liked it, and would recommend for a quick fun read about dysfunctional families.-I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.-
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  • Jayme
    July 3, 2017
    My goodness, this book is incredible! It's an epistolary where you learn about the life of the protagonist, Julie, from her family, close family friends, and a few unusual items and characters (like her boyfriend's dog and her IUD).The most impressive aspect of Fogels' writing is that she masterfully evokes specific voices for each character. Most writers slap a new character name on a letter and think that's enough, but Fogel manages to make each letter have a very specific character voice and My goodness, this book is incredible! It's an epistolary where you learn about the life of the protagonist, Julie, from her family, close family friends, and a few unusual items and characters (like her boyfriend's dog and her IUD).The most impressive aspect of Fogels' writing is that she masterfully evokes specific voices for each character. Most writers slap a new character name on a letter and think that's enough, but Fogel manages to make each letter have a very specific character voice and style of expression. Structure aside, THIS BOOK IS HILARIOUS! I was laughing out loud the whole time! And perhaps as a Jewish person, I felt especially drawn to this style of humor, as it taps into that seemingly rude humor, but it always comes from a place of love. So passive aggressive! I cringed. I pitied. I laughed so hard.
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  • Liz Englund
    May 6, 2017
    Just finished reading Nuclear Family, by Susanna Fogel. I received a free copy of a proof of the book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, in exchange for a review on that site. Had to add one here. Just because. Because this book is just so effing FUNNY. It's an epistolary novel (which I like) done really well. Told entirely in letters, notes and emails from family and others (including certain dead and/or inanimate writers), we never hear directly from Julie, to whom all of the correspon Just finished reading Nuclear Family, by Susanna Fogel. I received a free copy of a proof of the book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, in exchange for a review on that site. Had to add one here. Just because. Because this book is just so effing FUNNY. It's an epistolary novel (which I like) done really well. Told entirely in letters, notes and emails from family and others (including certain dead and/or inanimate writers), we never hear directly from Julie, to whom all of the correspondence is directed. Sounds odd, right? Trust me, it all makes sense. It's a fast read, and keeps moving through a couple of decades of family disfunction and passive-aggressive communications. My only regret is that it wasn't longer.....
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  • Katie B
    June 27, 2017
    This book is a collection of letters/emails/messages that the fictional Julie Fellers has received over the course of 3 decades. What makes this book unique is that the reader never gets to see Julie respond directly to her family. Oh, and sometimes the letters aren't from her family but from her long-forgotten dead gerbil or her birth control device. (Yes, that sounds weird, but trust me those letters are just as hilarious as the ones from family.)This book is perfect for when you want a good l This book is a collection of letters/emails/messages that the fictional Julie Fellers has received over the course of 3 decades. What makes this book unique is that the reader never gets to see Julie respond directly to her family. Oh, and sometimes the letters aren't from her family but from her long-forgotten dead gerbil or her birth control device. (Yes, that sounds weird, but trust me those letters are just as hilarious as the ones from family.)This book is perfect for when you want a good laugh. I'm not sure which character was my favorite; the passive-aggressive father or the clueless mother. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has ever enjoyed The Thanksgiving Letter that was posted at Awkward Family photos. The not so subtle digs by the father to Julie remind me of Marney. I received a free ARC from Henry Holt and Company and was under no obligation to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinions.
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  • Diane Hernandez
    July 23, 2017
    Hilarious novel about a family just like yours.Nuclear Family is a collection of letters and emails to Julie from her teenage years to her 30s from her loved ones. There are letters from her over serious father, her oversharing mother and her free-spirited sister. More unusual are letters from her boyfriend's dog, her teenage Nordic Track and her IUD.It took me about an hour to find this book funny. I think you have to be familiar with the characters first. However, after that I found myself fre Hilarious novel about a family just like yours.Nuclear Family is a collection of letters and emails to Julie from her teenage years to her 30s from her loved ones. There are letters from her over serious father, her oversharing mother and her free-spirited sister. More unusual are letters from her boyfriend's dog, her teenage Nordic Track and her IUD.It took me about an hour to find this book funny. I think you have to be familiar with the characters first. However, after that I found myself frequently laughing out loud. I particularly liked the two very different grandmothers and the creepy peer of Julie's father.Overall, this is a short funny book about family that would be a good vacation read.I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway but that has not impacted my review.
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  • Dennise
    July 19, 2017
    I won an ARC of this book from Goodreads. So glad I did. It's fascinating. I did not want to put this book down, beginning to end. The first 30-some odd years of a woman's life told through correspondence her family (and sometimes inanimate objects or dead people) send her. From a narcissistic father, guilt trip mother, adopted sister, and miscellaneous others we learn about Julie's life and that of her family. I could relate to having a lot of family members that match with her family's charact I won an ARC of this book from Goodreads. So glad I did. It's fascinating. I did not want to put this book down, beginning to end. The first 30-some odd years of a woman's life told through correspondence her family (and sometimes inanimate objects or dead people) send her. From a narcissistic father, guilt trip mother, adopted sister, and miscellaneous others we learn about Julie's life and that of her family. I could relate to having a lot of family members that match with her family's characteristics. I love that Julie is not taking a traditional path in life. This was a great story.
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  • Rachel
    July 26, 2017
    Told entirely in letters and e-mails to Julie Feller, from her teen years through her 30's, from her mom, dad, step-mom, sister, half-brother, cousins, friends, boyfriends, and even the gerbil she accidentally drowned when she was 10, the lonely Nordic Track in her father's office, her IUD, and the container of Sabra hummus at her grandmother's deathbed. I laughed so hard it might have impaired my driving! Not sure if it would have been as enjoyable in print because the 12 narrators on the audio Told entirely in letters and e-mails to Julie Feller, from her teen years through her 30's, from her mom, dad, step-mom, sister, half-brother, cousins, friends, boyfriends, and even the gerbil she accidentally drowned when she was 10, the lonely Nordic Track in her father's office, her IUD, and the container of Sabra hummus at her grandmother's deathbed. I laughed so hard it might have impaired my driving! Not sure if it would have been as enjoyable in print because the 12 narrators on the audio version just had perfect comedic timing - it was an A+ performance. A short, smart, wickedly funny & entertaining audio-book (with lots of Gen X humor I could relate to). Highly recommend it!
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  • Staci
    June 15, 2017
    I received an advanced copy of this book and I'm actually grateful for that. This is not a book I would have looked at in a store and thought "oh this looks interesting."I'd have been a foolish, foolish person not to try this book.It's full of humor and self deprecation. I know the narrators father (type) I've seen in several people throughout my life.I recommend that anyone read this book. It's funny with out being jokey "hahahaha" laugh track funny.
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  • Christie
    July 12, 2017
    Funny, light, imaginative reading allowing us to catch several different glimpses into one woman's life. This story is told through letters, from family members, creepy friends of the family, and even some inanimate objects. It's imaginative and unique, not quite like anything I've ever read. A pleasant, fast read. Just a little too light and fast for me. (Although probably more of a 3.5 star book than a 3.)
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  • Tamzen
    July 3, 2017
    I won this book as a part of Goodreads giveaways. I wasn't sure how much I'd like the letters-to-a-person-you-don't-really-meet style, but it worked really well! The book was pretty funny and created a character that you could empathize with without ever hearing her speak. It was a quick, enjoyable read!
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  • Kristine R.
    July 4, 2017
    *2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge - a book of letters*This book was laugh out loud hilarious. I especially loved the sister and the mother characters. Received ARC from Goodreads for review purposes: Thanks!
  • Taylor E. Watson
    July 25, 2017
    IT WAS AMAZING!!!!! It's not Ulysses, but it's been a long time since I laughed so hard. Insightful and inventive approach that any one with a "modern family" can relate to ;)
  • Jen
    February 19, 2017
    Love 'em, hate 'em, or merely tolerate 'em we all have a family who'll no doubt embarrass us. The extent to which we let them effect us varies, as can be seen in Susanna Fogel's Nuclear Family: A Tragicomic Novel in Letters. To read this, and other book reviews, visit my website: http://makinggoodstories.wordpress.com/.Composed from letters sent from her various family members, the lives of those surrounding Julie is depicted through these missives. Described as dysfunctional at best, these glim Love 'em, hate 'em, or merely tolerate 'em we all have a family who'll no doubt embarrass us. The extent to which we let them effect us varies, as can be seen in Susanna Fogel's Nuclear Family: A Tragicomic Novel in Letters. To read this, and other book reviews, visit my website: http://makinggoodstories.wordpress.com/.Composed from letters sent from her various family members, the lives of those surrounding Julie is depicted through these missives. Described as dysfunctional at best, these glimpses into the lives of this family demonstrates the struggle to retain meaningful relationships in a world where staying connected is too easy. Told over decades, the story develops with humorous, cringe-worthy, and sad tales from Julie's scientific-minded father, psychoanalyst mother, adopted younger sister, grandmother, inanimate objects, and various family friends.The narrative was rather entertaining and made me appreciate my comparatively normal family. The story became a bit meta toward the end with Julie writing a book based on her family as we're reading letters from her family that sound very similar to her novel (which, let's be honest, provides plenty of fodder). While I understand that the letters are all coming to Julie, I found it a little strange to have a one-sided conversation, as we never know how Julie responded to any of her family and family friends's correspondences. Each of the characters' personalities is well-realized through the way they write to Julie; however, we don't ever really get a sense of Julie and instead only see her through the twisted eyes of her self-involved family members.Overall, I'd give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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  • Blue
    April 23, 2017
    The description on the front of "Nuclear Family" by Susanna Fogel is very honest. It is indeed a book full of emails that I would categorize as tragic and comical. What can I say? I have fallen in love with this Jewish family. Already I have laughed and cried along with the parents, sister, cousin,.grandmother and stepmother. There are voices from inanimate objects. May I say their opinions began to matter to me?Jane, the sister, drove me nuts! Of course, she is young. I could not understand why The description on the front of "Nuclear Family" by Susanna Fogel is very honest. It is indeed a book full of emails that I would categorize as tragic and comical. What can I say? I have fallen in love with this Jewish family. Already I have laughed and cried along with the parents, sister, cousin,.grandmother and stepmother. There are voices from inanimate objects. May I say their opinions began to matter to me?Jane, the sister, drove me nuts! Of course, she is young. I could not understand why she repeatedly called Julie a dude? Also, she or someone else continued to use the word that begins with (F). This does not only happen in Susanna Fogel's novel. It is happening in most of the new fiction it seems. I would like to see this word forgotten in literature or not seen as often.We do not hear from Julie. I do not think it matters. I know her too. I feel her as she opens up the mail. I understand the mixed feelings about dating and trying to find number one or just a good date for a night. Of course, I would have liked her to appear at Temple Emmanuel. OMG! I can not forget the shirtless rabbi on Facebook. I could not help it. I pictured him as a man you might find in a "Romantic Times" magazine. So handsome you want to like him up like strawberry ice cream. I hope it is alright to write the name of the magazine. Honestly, this is a fun summer beach read or spring time or a book for any season. I only regret not having a Grandma Rose. There is so much to write or say about this small book that I can not write here due to time. I'm reading about an unknown site called Yelp.com. Now Mom you did come down pretty hard on that lawyer. You surprised me. I think you should have saved half that anger for him before his hospital visit..
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  • Tracy
    April 22, 2017
    In general, I enjoy a funny epistolary novel, but this one didn't quite do it for me. There were some funny moments, and I enjoyed the mother character in particular, but I left the book feeling like the character to whom all the letters/emails/chats were directed, Julie, remained a bit of a cypher. It would have been nice to "overhear" a few of her letters back to all of the family members reaching out to her.Note: i received a free galley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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