First off, the thing that attracted me to Let Me Explain You by Annie Liontas was the title and the cover. I instantly had an idea about what it was going to be about: a Greek family tale with a strong, and perhaps quirky, patriarch. And my guess was pretty dead on.
Stavros Stavros Mavrakis believes he has ten days to live when he writes an ‘airing of grievances’ style email to his daughters and ex-wife. He tells them their mistakes and how they should live their lives and then he vanishes. Through this email the family’s dark secrets, hidden neuroses and age old disputes come to light.
I found the novel to be a little unevenly written. There were portions I adored – specifically the middle section – and other places where it was just OK. For that reason, Let Me Explain You reads like the first novel that it is.
What Liontas does really well is recount the experience of living in an immigrant family. There is always conflict between what the immigrating parents want for their children and what the American-born children actually want. Here we deal with issues of sexuality and mental illness.
Who would like this book? I personally have high hopes for Liontas. Let Me Explain You is a good first novel, but I think she will go on to produce even better works as her writing matures. Her writing style is smooth and accessible and she delves into some interesting issues. And of course, being a story about some controversial issues in a Greek family, it immediately brought Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides to mind.
I would like to thank Simon & Schuster Canada for sending me a copy of this book for review consideration.