“There’s a Word for That” is the first adult novel by author Sloane Tanen, who is better known for her illustrated and young adult books. While this novel is a strong enough first foray into the world of adult fiction, it is somewhat lacklustre in its overall impact – making for a slow and mildly unsatisfying read.
Following the lives and drama of retired film producer and opioid addict Marty Kessler and his family, including former child actress and lost soul Janine, “There’s a Word for That” takes on the tone of a dark family sitcom that skims over serious topics but doesn’t delve too deep. With themes of addiction, suicide and damaged relationships driving the action, a steady dose of comedy and serendipity has the effect of holding the narrative back from getting too up close and personal with any one of those complex issues in particular.
While the novel’s humour and a series of delightfully uncomfortable situations do make for an entertaining read, the lack of depth and reliance on coincidence make this novel just shallow enough that it can be difficult to want to keep reading.
Overall, this book is a look into the relatively mild issues of one family struggling to keep it all together under unique circumstances. It won’t blow you away and you may not remember it for years to come, but it shouldn’t be entirely overlooked. Its quirky characters and dark humour make the read worth it, but only if you’re on the hunt for a book that will pass the time.
GBC Reader Reviews