Gretchen Anthony’s debut novel, Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners, is cute; I can see many reasons why people would love it. For me, however, it is a good reminder of why I tend to steer clear of contemporary fiction and family dramas. Violet’s heavy-handed mothering makes helicopter moms look like absentee parents, but it is her attitude and smugness that is truly infuriating. Her self-righteousness is beyond annoying, and I enjoyed any moment in the novel which saw someone undermine her authority or introduce chaos into her orderly life. I appreciate the attempt made at adding diversity but feel that there could have been even more. To add insult to injury, the story itself is predictable. There are some quirky scenes that befit the upper Midwest setting, but nothing that happens is a significant surprise. I managed to enjoy most of my time with the Baumgartners, but I am going to continue to limit the number of family dramas I read. I have enough drama in my own life to not need or want to read about others’ drama.
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