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The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac by Kris D’Agostino

Sleepy Hollow

Meet Calvin Moretti.  Calvin is 24 years old and living at home with his parents after a failed attempt at grad school for film. He lives with his older, over-achieving brother and his younger kid sister (who has recently divulged to Calvin that she’s pregnant). His father is obsessed with his own mortality after finding out he has cancer and is no longer to work as a pilot. His mother is being crushed by all of the bills because they’re not receiving the full paycheck from her husband’s work anymore.

Calvin wants to move out. He wants to find a job he loves. But he also wants to hang out with his friends and smoke weed. He puts a little bit of money away from every paycheck, but he’s not making much to begin with as an assistant teacher at a school for autistic children.

The back of the book description of Kris D’Agostino’s The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac concludes with the following:

“Can things get worse? Oh, yes, they can.

Which makes it all the more amazing that The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanacis not only buoyantly fun but often very, very funny. In this debut novel, Kris D’Agostino has crafted an engrossing contemporary tale of a loopy but loving family, and in Calvin Moretti, he’s created an oddball antihero who really wants to do the right thing—if he can just figure out what it is.”

I must have missed the laughs. While there were definitely humorous moments, for the most part I found the entire book depressing. It was depressing because it was so realistic. It made me sad. I think I had a hard time with it because I felt like even though I wouldn’t say that I’m entirely similar to Calvin, at the same time, I felt as though I could relate.

This is definitely one of those “life is tough, wear a helmet” kind of books. But, it is a well written one. I found it easy to read and that I continuously wanted to read more. That is surely an accomplishment: make the reader want to continue reading a book as it is simultaneously making you depressed. While some people might not list this book as their cup of tea (it might not even be my cup of tea, I’m still on the fence), you can’t deny that it portrays its characters in a very realistic and hard-hitting light.

This is Kris D’Agostino’s first book and it shows promise. I actually heard about Sleep Hollow Family Almanac from more than one list of “Must Reads.” The lists were recommending recently published books from the past few years that shouldn’t be missed. I’m interested to see where D’Agostino goes from here. He received high praise for his first novel; I hope his next lives up to the first. I can only hope that he doesn’t pull a Donna Tartt (see my reviews for The Secret History and her second book, The Little Friend if you don’t know what I mean.)

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