Book Review | Apologize, Apologize! by Elizabeth Kelly
Apologize, Apologize! takes us into the perversely charmed world of the Flanagans and their son, Collie (His parents named him after their favorite breed of dog.) Collie comes of age on Martha’s Vineyard, trying to make sense of his wildly wealthy, hyper-articulate, resolutely crazy family members: a philandering father, incorrigible brother, pigeon-racing uncle, radical activist mother, and a domineering media mogul grandfather (accused of being a murderer by Collie’s mother). As Collie searches for his place in the world, he suffers insurmountable loss and grapples for bravery as he struggles to cope with people he has no choice but to love.
Collie is the elder boy of the Flanagan family, a wealthy Irish-Catholic bunch living in Martha’s Vineyard. The Flanagans are an eccentric, chaotic crew, enmeshed in all of their perverseness. In Apologize, Apologize!, Collie tries to grow up in this mess and either separate himself from his family or learn to accept them as they are.
I had a difficult time getting through this book. Each character seemed to be more of a caricature of a specific crazy trait: histrionic mother, rebellious teen, etc. It was tough to discern a plot; the book seemed more focused on spelling out just how crazy the Flanagans are rather than follow Collie’s story. The dialogue between the characters was always more of a battle of wits, and eventually that got tiresome.
The strongest aspect of the book was the way the author committed to the main character, Collie. She wrote in a confident, clever way, and Collie seemed to be the only member of the absurd Flanagan family that was not one-dimensional. I found myself feeling very bad for Collie throughout the book, knowing he was enmeshed with his family and had no way out. He only wanted a sense of belonging and family love, something he would never find in a family where everyone is concerned with their own gains.
Apologize, Apologize! is a wild, whirlwind journey.