Tag Archives: Berkley Books

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.

Review: Seven Days of Us

Seven Days of Us

Seven Days of Us
By Francesca Hornak
Berkley Books, 9780451488756, October 2017, 368pp.

The Short of It:

Interesting premise but it lost all its fizz in those final pages.

The Rest of It:

Imagine spending the Christmas holiday in quarantine.  That is what happens in Seven Days of Us. Olivia returns from providing medical services to HAAg patients in Liberia. Because of the deadly nature of the virus, she is forced to spend seven days in seclusion so she chooses to spend those days at the family home over the Christmas holidays. What she hasn’t shared with anyone is that she broke the no-touch rule while in Liberia and now the person she had relations with has contracted the virus.

In the meantime, there is a lot of family drama. A son shows up. He was a result of an affair and he’s come to connect with his birth dad which upsets the balance of the house as a whole. To add even more to this story, Emma, Olivia’s mother has been diagnosed with Lymphoma and has yet to tell anybody about it.

I loved the premise of the book. The idea of spending seven days in forced captivity with all this going in is pretty entertaining and does provide some challenges for this family but it all fell apart for me about three quarters of the way in. No one is likable. All of the characters are either very stoic or overly dramatic and immature. Perhaps, this is how a real family would be in a situation like this but it made for some tough reading towards the end.

My main issue is that the family really didn’t learn anything from the experience. They are too self-absorbed to care much about anyone but themselves. There are some realizations but no big “aha” moments and much of what happens is just not realistic given the serious nature of the virus.

It fizzled out for me and took me a long time to finish but the first half was pretty good.

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