The Elected Member by Bernice Rubens #completebooker

The Elected Member centres on the Zweck family: a father lives above
the shop he keeps with his son and one of his daughters. His son,
Norman, is ailing from a drug addiction that brings on vivid
hallucinations of silver fish. His daughter, Bella, is still wearing
ankle socks despite being decades older than a school girl.

At the beginning of the novel, Bella and her father call out the
doctor for the umpteenth time after Norman has another bad bout of
hallucination. The doctor convinces them that, with Norman’s repeated
relapses, the only way to help him is to commit him to a home, where
he can be rehabilitated.

Norman’s ‘incarceration’ prompts a reflective mood in the family, and
little by little, we learn about the family’s history and the dark
secrets that are the root cause of unhappiness for each of the Zwecks.

The book is easy to read, and though much is revealed, the pace of the
story seems rather plodding – a pace that fits Norman’s mentality. The
reflective and nostalgic reminiscence is in contrast with the present
day action, where both the care home and the family home are places of
turmoil and chaos.

I found the Zwecks irritating in different ways, but really enjoyed
Norman’s fellow ‘in-mates’ with their varying psychoses and
idiosyncracies. Though the subject matter has a dark heart, The
Elected Member displays a lightness of touch that reveals it as a
moving drama about the ultimately transitory nature of the family
unit.

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