Friday, January 15, 2010

The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos

I first heard about this book when I read about it on Reading Rants, which called it one of the most under-appreciated books of the 2000s. Most of the comments on that page were along the lines of "that book was so weird!" so how could I not follow up on it? This book is really hard to talk about without spoiling it (partly because at 185 pages, it's not a long book), so I'll put in a spoiler warning just in case.

It's a hot Easter Sunday, and Ivy is about to make a discovery that will change the very course of her life. She's been used to hanging out at the pharmacy with Adolph and Abner Rumbaugh, the elderly twin pharmacists who keep an eye on her while her mother is at work. Her mother used to work for them years ago, so this arrangement makes sense, even if it is a little odd. But that one Sunday, Ivy stumbles upon something that the twins have kept hidden - an old family secret that they hide from the rest of the world. It's not until nearly a decade later on Ivy's 16th birthday that her mom reveals Ivy's true connection to the Rumbaugh family and the titular love curse, but by that time so many things have been set in motion that Ivy wonders just how much of her life has been genetically determined and how much she has free will over.

The book veers into horror without being scary; it's dark and twisted but in a way that kept me turning pages rather than putting the book down. I don't know of the book's appeal for young adults; it reminded me much more of the out-and-out adult books that I've read, but one of the things that I love about YA literature is how blurry the boundaries are.

Find it on Amazon.

Read it with:
The Girls - Lori Lansens
The Hotel New Hampshire or The World According to Garp by John Irving
Dawn by Kevin Brooks
Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales edited by Deborah Noyes

I got this book: from my library.


  1. Sounds interesting - and the cover art is very striking. Thanks for the review!

  2. It is a good cover! It's a new one; the library book I took out was old and a lot less attractive.

  3. I love Jack Gantos. Hole in My Life is a favorite I actually got signed. Thanks, Jim.