Review & Tour: Casebook

By Mona Simpson
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780385351416, April 15, 2014, 336pp.)

The Short of It:

A little bit of mystery and a lovable protagonist add a special something to an otherwise familiar story.

The Rest of It:

After his parents split, Miles Adler spends his days eavesdropping on his mathematician mother, Irene. Although his father visits frequently and Irene is still good friends with him, Miles fears that she’s lonely and a little depressed. When she meets Eli Lee, Miles sees a different side to his mom, a happy side. Her laughter and the easy breezy way she has about her when Eli is around, makes the days that much easier. But when Miles begins to suspect that Eli is too good to be true, he employs the help of his best friend Hector, to find out the truth.

The setting of this novel is both Santa Monica and Pasadena, Ca. Two places very local to me and for that reason alone, I decided to accept this novel for review. It’s fun to read a book and discover that yes, that is exactly how those neighborhoods are and that was absolutely the case here. I love when I can relate to a character through setting.

The setting wasn’t the only thing that caught my eye. I loved the characters, too. Miles, when we first meet him, is an awkward teen. He’s not a ladies man but is okay with it. He hangs out with his best friend Hector, and they spend their days cooking up business deals to make a few bucks. Selling snacks at lunch or providing re-location services for problem pets, Miles and Hector seem to do alright. When Miles begins to suspect that Eli is not being truthful with his mother, Miles and Hector tap her phone and look into Eli’s personal life to get a feel for the kind of guy he is. This is difficult for a couple of reasons, one…that Miles has grown to like Eli, and two…that his mom is so happy around him. Does he really want to know the truth?

I loved this book and was so sorry to see the story end.

Miles is such a sweet kid. Hector, too. I loved their friendship. It really reminded me of my teen years. How all you wanted to do all summer long was hang with your best friend. I spent many summers at my friend’s house, on her floor, gazing at the ceiling or out the window. It was okay to just BE and that’s how it is with Miles and Hector. The added mystery of Eli and who he really is just adds to the story.

As a mystery, it’s pretty tame. But as a coming-of-age story about friendship and family, it hit the ball out of the park. It just hit me in all the right places. It was sweet, funny and reminded me that there is goodness in the world. I highly recommend it.


Mona Simpson

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Ms. Simpson’s TLC tour stops.

TLC Book Tours

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher via TLC Book Tours.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

15 thoughts on “Review & Tour: Casebook”

  1. I always find it extra special when a book takes place in an area you are familiar with. And sometimes when you are in the perfect mood for coming-of-age, or a literary thriller, or a twisty mystery, and you get it, it makes for a five star experience. When I read Pillars of the Earth, I was actually tromping around England and seeing all those cathedrals. It makes the reading almost 3D.

    1. This is the first time I’ve read something by this author. I am looking her other books up now. 


    1. I have yet to read her other books but I planned to get to them at some point.  I love that I can add another author to my list of “to reads”. 


  2. I love it when a book is set on my home turf or an area I’m very familiar with… it always gives me a special relationship with the story. Mona Simpson knows how to tell a story, too!

    1. So true. She really captured the angst you feel in school too. That age is so difficult in general but it sure took me back. 


  3. I love reading books that take place in locations with which I am familiar. It definitely adds a little something to the overall enjoyment of a novel.

    I actually saw this one on Audible this morning. I may have to look a bit closer at it for audiobook potential. It may be a tame mystery but sometimes those make the best audiobooks.

  4. For some reasons, it escaped my notice where this book was set when I initially began reading. I was pleasantly surprised when I finally figured it out.

    I really enjoyed this one, more than I thought I would actually. I had expected more of a mystery, but luckily I wasn’t disappointed when that didn’t turn out to be the case.

    1. It was fun to read about places we know. I thought it would be heavier on the mystery part too but I am glad it wasn’t. I am not a huge reader of mystery. 


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