Family Meal

Books on Tape. Oct. 2023. 8:28 hrs. ISBN 9780593789230. $76. F
Three stories narrated by three performers converge in Washington’s (Memorial) melancholic latest. After the tragic death of his boyfriend Kai in Los Angeles, Cam returns to his hometown, Houston. There, he spends his days numbing himself with sex and drugs and his nights working as a bartender at his roommate’s bar. Meanwhile, Kai’s ghost continues to haunt him. Cam falls further into his addictions and starts restricting what he eats. One night, his estranged best friend TJ visits him at work. Although still angry that they haven’t spoken in years, TJ wants to help Cam get better. André Santana gives a remarkable performance as the spiraling Cam. His indifferent tone during Cam’s day-to-day life quickly turns into panicked, rushed vocals as changes loom near. Jake Choi confidently narrates TJ’s story, following him as he balances maintaining his family’s bakery with lingering in a closeted relationship and starting a new one with his coworker Noel. Unfortunately, between these stories, Washington flatly vocalizes Kai in a flashback about the last time he visited his family. Santana’s ghostly Kai has more life.
VERDICT With at least two strong narrators and a heartbreaking story, book clubs will gobble this up.
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