by lani (philadelphia): French Braid.”That’s it. And then when she undid them,(her braids) her hair would still be in ripples, little leftover squiggles, for hours and hours afterward.” “Yes…” “Well,” David said, “that’s how families work, too. You think you are free of them, but you’re never REALLY free; the ripples are crimped in forever.” What a perfect metaphor for a family that specializes in distance from one another, secrets of their lives untold, where communication is stifled, even as their lives are enter-twined or braided with one another. To be transparent, I kept getting knots in my stomach reading this novel as I identified my own family with its secrets, aloofness and silence. This story begins in 1959,a time when housewives generally acted like “Leave it to Beaver” and expressing their secret desires was not the norm. After several decades(60 years) we see the evolution of this family from grandparents, children and grandchildren. Though the family was cracked and detached from one another, love was expressed in small intricate waves. An insecure father, married to a woman who secretly wanted to be an artist, a daughter who was prim and proper, another one wild and contrary, and the unknowable son who distanced himself from the family. After the kids move out, the wife subtlely ships her items to a rented studio proceeding daily to set it up, bringing her clothes, beginning to spend nights there until she moves out completely while her husband refuses to acknowledge the truth. And..typical in this family, the truth is never spoken out loud to the children. The children have their own clandestine adventures in this character driven novel expressed by the minutiae of families every day lives. However, one gets to witness the unraveling which I found sad but not bleak, with the ending showing there is light at the end of the tunnel. Although this was not my favorite of Anne Tyler’s books, Tyler fans will not be disappointed. Themes are consistent with many of her other novels and you know she will pilot you safely forward.