By Eric Puchner
(Scribner, Paperback, 9780743270496, September 2010, 384pp.)
The Short of It:
Puchner creates one of the most heartbreaking stories of our time. Sad and beautiful, its message resonates.
The Rest of It:
Dreaming of untold riches in the real estate market, Warren Ziller moves his family to a gated community in (Rancho) Palos Verdes, California. There, they live the American dream. Nice house, nice neighborhood. But Warren has a secret. The real estate development that he’s invested in has tanked, and his family has no idea what looms ahead.
Once in a while a book comes up out of nowhere and just slaps you in the face. I first heard about Model Home when it was featured in this year’s Tournament of Books. Simply put, it sounded like my kind of book. It was set in Southern California, it had all the family dynamics that I seem to crave, and dysfunction… lots of it. I expected to enjoy it, but I did not expect to love it as much as I did.
This book will break your heart.
You will re-read passages over and over again because Puchner’s writing is so exquisite. His writing is both beautiful and raw, which doesn’t even sound right when put together in one sentence.
You’ve got your whole life ahead of you, people liked to say. In truth. there was not much time, a blip, and most of what you did was a mistake. You were lucky to find a safe and proper home. In the end, even the world cast you out, withdrawing its welcome.
The characters are so well-developed, that I cried for them. Their predicament is so dire at one point, so delicate and precarious that I had to pace my reading or be overwhelmed by grief.
If you search for reviews on this book, you’ll see that many found this book to be depressing. I didn’t. It’s an honest account of a family falling apart, but in many ways it’s hopeful too.
I want everyone to read this book. It’s my fave of the year (so far) and if you happen upon the interview with Eric Puchner, discussing the book, hold off on it until you’ve read it because it gives a huge plot point away!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.