Review: Other People’s Houses

Other People's Houses

Other People’s Houses
By Abbi Waxman
Berkley Books, 9780399587924, April 3, 2018, 352pp.

The Short of It:

Grab a cold drink and clear your afternoon for this one.

The Rest of It:

I’ve been reading some pretty good books lately.

Frances Bloom is THAT mom. She’s the carpool mom and people in the neighborhood look up to her. She’s a friendly approachable type, reliable, and thoughtful but as she shuttles the neighborhood kids to and from school each day, she can’t help but see the imperfections of her own little neighborhood,

Her close, married friend is having an affair with a much younger man, affecting the neighborhood in many ways. One of the moms on the street is MIA (what’s that about?). Her cousin who happens to live just down the street from her is wanting another baby even though her partner may not want one. With all this going on around her, Frances begins to doubt her own happiness. Does she have a happy marriage? Has the thirty pounds she’s gained over the years driven a wedge between her and her husband?

This all sounds rather domestic and fluffy but I have to say that it’s pretty realistic as far as neighborhoods go. If you really pay attention while walking the dog, you see things. Reading this book is like flinging a window open and sticking your face right into your neighbor’s house.

The story is a bit scandalous and there’s some language. It feels kind of naughty and wrong. I can’t lie, I ate it up. Because along with wrong, there’s a lot that’s right. There’s a lot of honesty within these characters and truthfully, I could relate to several of these families in some way.

There are mixed reviews of this book. I’d hazard to guess that those who had trouble with it, probably couldn’t relate to any of the families in the story. But if you’ve ever done a carpool, been on the PTA with a bunch of catty wenches, lived in a tight-knit community, and had your best friend’s marriage fall apart, you’ll find plenty to relate to because there’s a little bit of everything in here and I found it to be pretty authentic in the telling.

Plus, it has  some juicy bits and at one point I was laughing out loud.

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

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25 thoughts on “Review: Other People’s Houses”

  1. I do like these kinds of books. The term “beach read” is overused but I think that describes exactly what kind of book this sounds like. Something you can just breeze through but has some substance to it.

    1. This starts off rather light but quickly jumps into serious topics. The details of the affair keep you reading but the devastation of it is pretty realistic. I just love books that center around a neighborhood. So much going on and often you have no idea.

      I saw my neighbor at our shared mailbox the other day and she saw the new King book in my hand and we spent 30 minutes talking about Stephen King. Ten years as her neighbor and I had no idea she was a King fan. Do we really know our neighbors?

  2. Laughing out loud sounds perfect right now; somehow I’ve been reading books with deep subjects. I agree that walking your dog in the neighborhood gives you a glimpse of it all that you wouldn’t normally see!

    1. ​Infidelity is not funny but there is one particular part of this story that caught me off guard and it was SO funny because I could totally picture it in my head. Elementary school parents… the kind who volunteer can be brutal to work with. I don’t know what it is. I spent many years on PTO and each year it just got worse and worse. ​

    1. Yep. It’s not set by a body of water but it’s the kind of reading that’s fun and will keep you flipping the pages. Oh, and did I mention it was juicy? Oh yeah, I did.

  3. OK, I might have to read this book for the fact that you ‘laughed out loud’ and told us about it, Ti! Ha! And I’ve done carpools and PTA and other things. Have no idea if my neighbors are King fans though.

    1. Maybe your PTA experience was pretty good. Mine was good and then got horrible!! Such drama. If you read it, you must tell me if you laughed out loud at the one part I am talking about.

  4. Wait. There are still tight-knit neighborhoods? I thought those things were a thing of the past. I have never once lived in a neighborhood which was close.

    This sounds like it would not be for me, and that is perfectly okay.

    1. Tight-knit as in, everyone knows everyone else’s business. In this case she does because she takes all of their kids in the carpool. You see how people live because sometimes the kids give it away, sometimes you see the put-together mom come out in a housecoat…. you read into things. That’s what I meant by tight knit. The city I live in is crazy because so many of our kids do things with kids from all the other high schools so they all know each other but don’t necessarily live next door to each other.

  5. Somehow, your review made me think of the book Where Did You Go, Bernadette? I like that parts made you laugh out loud, as did Bernadette for me.

    In other news, I bought The Outsider today with a Barnes and Noble gift card given to me by one of my students. I hope to read it in June; I hope it doesn’t scare the beheck (a word I just made up) out of me as did It. And most of his others. 😉

    1. Bernadette was funny but sweet. This book has one very funny part but the rest is very realistic if you take a really good look at families raising children.

      You will love The Outsider. It has some scary elements but not “keep you up at night” elements, At least not for me. The pacing is good so you don’t get it all at the same time.

        1. That’s what I was saying the other day. He just knows how to write a good story. Sometimes the topics don’t work for me but he can make the most mundane things interesting. And the phrases he comes up with… so many good ones in this one.

  6. I’m loving these summer reads. I’ve read a few that would not even come close to being called “literary”…I’ve gasped, blushed, and 2nd guessed myself…and then kept right on reading 🙂 I’m adding this one to my queue!

    1. Me too!! It’s not literary fiction but it’s entertaining as heck. And the two I’ve read recently actually had some depth too.

  7. Okay this sounds really fun! I like a book that makes me feel like a microcosm of the world, and I am extremely EXTREMELY nosy and excited about hearing gossip about my neighbors. So. Sounds perfect for me.

  8. This recently came out? I guess we know more about our neighbors than I really thought we did. Sounds a bit of a page-turner in its gossipy ways. hmm

    1. Yes, it came out recently. It starts off rather light and I was worried it would be all gossip and no substance but once you get into it there’s actually quite a bit to think about.

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