Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Fifth Child

A relative gave me a box of books a few weeks ago, and The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing was included.  I had never heard of it before, but the synopsis sounded interesting.

From Goodreads:

The married couple in this novel pull off a remarkable achievement: They purchase a three-story house with oodles of bedrooms, and, on a middle-class income, in the '70s, fill it to the brim with happy children and visiting relatives. Their holiday gatherings are sumptuous celebrations of life and togetherness. And then the fifth child arrives. He's just a child--he's not supernatural. But is he really human?

My Thoughts:  I found this book to be interesting.  I couldn't wait to read about the fifth child and find out more about him.  That being said, I found the main characters, Harriet and David, to be really annoying.  They had this dream of having a ton of kids.  They both wanted a big family.  Unfortunately, they hadn't considered how much it would cost to have a big family.  David's father was wealthy, and he paid for most of their needs.  This was something that bothered me.  Harriet and David did very little thinking or planning when it came to starting a family.  Don't get me wrong.  I think big families can be great but only if there is sufficient financial stability.

Another thing that annoyed me was Harriet's feeling that everyone thought she was a criminal because she wanted a big family.  I really didn't like that the author chose the word "criminal."  This is just my opinion.  I feel there could have been a different way of describing how Harriet felt people thought of her.  It didn't seem to fit with the way the other relatives treated Harriet and David's stance on family size.

Anyways, back to the fifth child.  I was anticipating more about what the child was or what led to his strange behaviors and characterisitics.  I didn't get this.  The story continued throughout part of fifth child's childhood but there was very little discussion about what exactly was wrong with him.  He made the family's life difficult, and they were forced to try different ways of coping.

I thought the concept behind this book was interesting, but I would've liked to see more exploration into what caused the fifth child's problem behaviors.  That could just be the psych major in me, though.  :-)

Rating: 3/5 

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