The Turner House

The Turner House

Book - 2016
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A powerful, timely debut, The Turner House marks a major new contribution to the story of the American family. The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit's East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts and shapes their family's future. Praised by Ayana Mathis as utterly moving and un-putdownable, The Turner House brings us a colorful, complicated brood full of love and pride, sacrifice and unlikely inheritances. It's a striking examination of the price we pay for our dreams and futures, and the ways in which our families bring us home.
Published: Boston :, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,, 2016.
Copyright Date: ♭2015
ISBN: 9780544705166
Branch Call Number: F FLO
Characteristics: 341 pages ;,24 cm


Featured Blogs and Events

One Read 2017: “The Turner House” by Angela Flournoy

Learn more about the book and author selected for DBRL's 2017 One Read community reading program. (more)

KFRU’s David Lile Interviews One Read Author Angela Flournoy

On September 26, 2017, KFRU’s David Lile interviewed this year’s One Read author Angela Flournoy about her novel “The Turner House.” Listen below to hear her talk about writing her debut novel, the research she conducted for it and how the history of Detroit influenced “The Turner House.” (more)

From Library Staff

The One Read selection for 2017

DBRL_KrisA Jun 11, 2017

Having read Jeffrey Eugenides' "Middlesex" within the last year, my immediate impulse was to start comparing the two books. While there are similarities - they both deal with multiple generations of families; they both take place in Detroit and deal with the gradual deterioration of the... Read More »

DBRL_KatSU Jan 25, 2017

"The Turner House" is a wonderful family story set against the backdrop of the housing crisis in Detroit.

Cha-Cha, the eldest of 13 children, wrestles with a haint (a ghost) in the beginning of the story, and is told by his father, with utter seriousness, "There ain't no haints... Read More »

From the critics

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IndyPL_LindsayH May 27, 2020

The Turners story is centered around a house that is now about to be sold. The Turners are a large, tight-knit African-American family that came of age on the east side of Detroit when the city was thriving. Now their mother is aging, and has to move in with her son. The house and it’s surrounding neighborhood are not what they were in the past. The Turner House is an intricately woven family story that depicts how important a place can be to a family.

May 19, 2020

ellen meyer recommended in her insta stories "a perfect novel"

Nov 21, 2019

It is springtime 2008 in ravaged, hopeless Detroit. It is a paean to this fallen mecca for the victims of the atrocities in the grim years of the Jim Crow South. The American dream has been soured, and the city has been abandoned by the white families who have migrated to the suburbs, leaving empty houses in their wake, the closure of businesses and the looming oppression of economic despair. The only spark of optimism for the city is the possibility of change from a new President in this post Bush America, which is searching for a beacon of light and for a new future with renewed possibilities. Such is the family that had lived in the Turner house, which is abandoned now, shielding and concealing all the family secrets. The parents of the Turner family had been part of the generation that fled the South for the city, the two had thought they had culiminated their hard work in the symbolic structure that is their home. With their children, thirteen in number, in spite of disappointments, blatant racism by authority figures and murky pasts, the parents see their children as a mark of their successes. The parents , " "thought their children would be an army unto themselves…forming an unbreakable, outward-facing chain." Thus is born the family that is scattered and lacks the union of that chain . Cha Cha is the oldest child, and is haunted by a presence, a wraith that personifies the burden that he carries of his family. He has been the keeper of secrets, and thus the plight of addiction is deliberately and without sentiment explored in the book. He has been given, however inappropriately the role of the person who covers up his father's addictions and denies them to everyone in the clan, including himself. It is only with a spectral encounter whilst driving that almost takes his life, that he is able to examine his past and see the connection between his phantom and the looming,silent ghost that is the secrets that he has been party to. He pays to keep the lights on in the abandoned family house, and it is because of this homage, that his youngest sibling is able to find refuge there in the wake of the consequence of her own tragic addiction to gambling. The family is both torn apart by the house, and ultimately reunited because of it. They have to make a decision about the house, but it is apparent that the house is not what matters, it is the chain that they have forged, of love and strength and the ultimate hope, as Leilah voices, " For better things".

Aug 20, 2018

this probably isn't the place to request but looking for list of QUESTIONS to use for discussion for book "The Turner House"

Mar 16, 2018

This story about a large multi-generational family whose disposition of the family is complicated both by interpersonal dynamics and the neighborhood decline due to white flight
economic inequality, redlining, and fraudulent real estate/insurance practices which took hold from the 1960's and escalated in four subsequent decades. The setting for Turner House is ambiguous; but could be in any number of neighborhoods east of downtown and bordered by Eight Mile Road, on the north, and the Grosse Pointes to the east. While reading this; I imagined the similar neighborhood west of the Connor-Mack area where I once taught Head
Start. Some of the dialogue and issues in the book are much like those shared by our Jefferson-Chalmers neighbors.

Nov 21, 2017

Fluornoy’s debut novel is a complex family tale that follows how the thirteen Turner siblings must grapple with what to do with the house on Yarrow Street where they grew up after their mother is too old to live alone any longer. Thematically, the book deals broadly with place, both the importance of the Turner family home, and the history that resides there, and also the city of Detroit. Fluornoy also addresses the legacy of addiction within and between generations of a family, and how families understand mental health and addiction more generally. The plot is slow moving, but the highlight is the complex family dynamic amongst the many siblings.

Originally posted at Required Reading:

Aug 28, 2017

Set in Detroit in 2008 as the Great Recession and housing crises looms and in the 1940s when the first Turner moves there from Arkansas as part of the Great Migration, we follow the hopes and dreams of the large Turner family and the house that grounds them to this city.

Wonderful evocation of a city in transition and the toll it takes on those who have invested years in an East Side neighborhood. Cha Cha, the eldest, and his ghost memories got a bit long winded, but the author was able to resolve it in the end. Wonderful character studies in this family of 13 children.

DBRL_KrisA Jun 11, 2017

Having read Jeffrey Eugenides' "Middlesex" within the last year, my immediate impulse was to start comparing the two books. While there are similarities - they both deal with multiple generations of families; they both take place in Detroit and deal with the gradual deterioration of the city - there are definite differences. The most obvious surface difference is that the family in "Middlesex" is Greek, while the family in "The Turner House" is African American. Flournoy's book deals mostly with one generation of the Turner family - the children of Francis and Viola Turner. And, of course, the story of Cal in Eugenides' book is unlike just about any other story out there.
While there are thirteen children in the Turner family, the author focuses most of her attention on the oldest, Cha-Cha, and the youngest, Lelah. Most of the other brothers and sisters make appearances in the book, some more than others, but if the story is about the Turner family, I feel there should have been more attention paid to all the members of that family.
On the surface, the "Turner house" in the title refers to the house on Yarrow Street where all the kids grew up. But toward the end of the book, Flournoy makes a comment about what a "Turner house party" entails, and it made me realize that her definition of "Turner house" also encompasses any place where the Turner family are gathered. While the book doesn't completely resolve the issue of what to do with the Yarrow Street house, it's made clear that, wherever and whenever members of the Turner family gather (most likely in Cha-Cha's house), that place is also the "Turner House".

May 02, 2017

This book touches on a lot of interesting topics--large families (and all the drama that can ensue), the effects of white flight, and addiction are among the biggest topics touched on. It also is populated with interesting people--most notably the parents and oldest and youngest siblings of the Turner family.

I wanted to like the book more than I did. I found it fairly inconsistent in the strength of its delivery. It's one of those books where much of the journey is internal, so there isn't much in terms of action. Some chapters gripped me, and others had me looking ahead to see when the next chapter would be starting up.

I think Flournoy did a good job of capturing life within a big family and touching on the themes of the changes in our country during this last century that affected her characters' lives; the story just needed a little something more to draw me in as deeply as I normally like to go into a book.

Mar 28, 2017

"Middlesex" is still my favorite novel about Detroit, but this is now a close second. It features historic interest (particularly of the Great Migration) as well as relatable modern characters.

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Nov 21, 2017

Fluornoy’s debut novel is a complex family tale that follows how the thirteen Turner siblings must grapple with what to do with the house on Yarrow Street where they grew up after their mother is too old to live alone any longer. Fluornoy focuses on the oldest sibling, Charles, aka Cha-Cha, and the youngest, Lela, separated by more than twenty-three years in age, and eleven siblings. Cha-Cha is in therapy after having claimed to have seen a ghost, and Lela is struggling mightily to hide a gambling addiction. Flashbacks illuminate the history of their parents, Francis and Viola Turner, who came North to Detroit for the promise of a better life than the one the South offered its black citizens.


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