Tag Archives: Suburbia

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.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Dogs of Littlefield

The Dogs of Littlefield

The Dogs of Littlefield
By Suzanne Berne
Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781476794242, January 2016, 288pp.

The Short of It:

Perfect suburban neighborhoods are anything but perfect.

The Rest of It:

Littlefield, Massachusetts, is this perfect little town filled with psychologists and professors, wide open spaces and dogs, lots of dogs.  But as perfect as it sounds, the dogs are off-leash and the neighborhood is divided over whether to allow them to continue to go off-leash or to impose leash laws. In the middle of this debate, someone is poisoning dogs one by one which has set the entire neighborhood on edge.

On the surface, there is a lot of dog talk but really, as with any suburban neighborhood where everyone knows everyone else or at least seems to think they know everything about everyone else, there is a lot of conflict between husbands and wives, friends, etc.  The white picket fences are just an illusion, really.

However, what could have been a really strong read was really just okay in my book. Halfway through, the story seemed to lose steam even though there was still plenty to know about what was going on in the neighborhood.  But Berne’s depiction of suburbia was pretty spot-on and that is what carried me through.

In the end, I enjoyed getting to know a new author but wish that the pacing had held up a little better.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.