Tag Archives: Julie Langsdorf

Review: White Elephant

White Elephant

White Elephant
By Julie Langsdorf
Ecco, 9780062857750, March 26, 2019, 320pp.

The Short of It:

A neighborhood is in flux when one of the homeowners builds a giant, monstrosity of a home right next to his quaint, cozy, cottage style neighbors.

The Rest of It:

Any book centered around a suburban neighborhood is probably a book that will end up on my shelf because I am obsessed with suburbia. Mostly, its inhabitants and in White Elephant, they are an interesting group for sure.

The addition of this ginormous home sets everyone on edge. The early morning hammering and the lack of space between it and the other homes that flank it create stress and frustration for everyone involved. This “stress” is acted on in many different ways. One of which is an affair with the said neighbor. And then, suddenly people are pregnant and talking about their own homes expanding.

Such is the case with master planned communities. Things change. People change. Builders try to predict how people will live but in the end, there is always progress. Homes gets bigger as families get bigger. Marriages fall apart due to stress. Perhaps from having to carry a heftier mortgage. More kids to raise, too. You get it.

White Elephant puts it all right there for you to observe. My one complaint is that I didn’t feel attached to any of the characters so their individual struggles didn’t mean all that much to me. However, what it says about progress and how inevitable it is kind of depressed me. I’ve seen very similar things in my own neighborhood which used to be a cul-de-sac neighborhood but is now no longer that due to the end of the road being opened up to the main highway. With the added through traffic came speed bumps. Progress. Not the good kind.

If you don’t mind a book that is rather episodic in nature, and you have a fascination for suburbia, then you will appreciate White Elephant.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
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