“Among the Ten Thousand Things” is the story of a family falling apart. Julia Pierpont shows the reader in exquisite and funereal detail all the ways in which the Shanley family — Jack the philandering artist, Deb the former dancer, teenage Simon and pre-teen Kay — is uniquely unhappy.
It’s a well-written, sometimes lyrical book, but it isn’t a particularly enjoyable one. I slogged through it, but I didn’t like any of the characters and every chapter left me feeling melancholy. Which I guess is the purpose of the Unhappy Family genre.