Steven Amsterdam's novel, What the Family Needed plays with the idea of having a superpower get you through a tough time in your life. Each chapter in Amsterdam's novel focuses on a different family member and the time in which they received their super power.
The powers are not something that the characters receive with surprise. It's more like it's something necessary to help them. It's this lack of surprise that helped with the plausibility and allowed me to just go along for the ride. It would have become very tedious to read if I had to sit through all seven characters have their individual shocked reactions to their new powers. Just as the book is titled, the characters easily accept the powers as something that they need. I can suddenly dissapear or speed through water? Cool.
The family involved is two adult sisters and their individual families. I'm still unsure if I liked how the stories connected. I felt like a few of the chapters would have worked better as a individual short story. i could have enjoyed the content more, rather than thinking about how it was going to intersect with the other characters. I enjoyed the characters as part of a family unit, but overall the premise behind the stories was far more entertaining than the family dynamic. I didn't finish the novel feeling like I gained more from having the stories connected. I would have enjoyed it more if it had been a collection of unrelated chapters.
My favorite chapter was, Ben, a father with an infant son who is given the power to fly in order to gain perspective. It was beautifully written and the story least connected to the other characters. I also really loved Peter, who gained the ability to materialize what he needed to have after his wife passed away. This isn't a conventional story involving super powers. The powers are much more subtle and tied to emotional needs. The story has many poignant moments.
I enjoyed the concept and Amsterdam's writing style, but admittedly, the story did not manage to hold my interest. I finished it, but there were many times where I fell asleep reading or struggled to keep focused. It was uneven. However, I look forward to checking out other works by Amsterdam, as he has a unique perspective.