More than anything else, this book has a lot of personal memories attached to it. I had downloaded the kindle book almost a year ago. I had read a few chapters of it through the first half of 2018 and then completed reading the book this month. I have a problem with books that drag on a lot about the characteristics of the characters and places. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style and the way the mystery and past of the characters evolve throughout the narrative of the book, I am not a big fan of too many characterizations being presented to the reader. It takes something away from the story itself. I believe, a book of fiction should be more about the story than the characters.
Here, there are quite a few characters that get introduced in the first chapter itself. The story revolves around a suburban mom living in a nearly perfect place called Shaker Heights , in the 90’s, where everybody knows everybody else and everyone follows the rules and has similar lifestyles and homes. Mrs. Richardson’s family shifted to this place two generations ago. She gets married and settles down in Shaker heights with her husband and four teenage kids , two girls and two boys. Lexie, Trip, Moody and Izzy. Lexie is the eldest daughter and is a senior in High School. Izzy, the youngest daughter, is the black sheep of the family.
Mia and her daughter rent the upstairs of Mrs. Richardson’s old duplex apartment. Mia is a photographer and she and her daughter, Pearl, have lived a gypsy kind of life all around the country, moving about in their old WV Rabbit. Moody notices Pearl while they are shifting into the apartment and ends up becoming friends with her. He is the one who introduces Pearl to the Richardson household, where she becomes a regular fixture. Mia gets a job cleaning and cooking for the Richardsons. Pearl is in awe of their lifestyle and home and has a crush on Trip. This is how the lives of two families entangle.
The book begins with the Richardson’s house on fire. Only the parents are at home when it happens. Once the news of the fire spreads , all the kids reach to see the remains of their home. All except for Izzy. Mia and Pearl have also left the previous night. What happens in the 11 months from the time Mia rents the apartment, to the fire at Richardson’s home is what the book is all about. The complications in the adoption of an Asian baby by one her childhood friends, is what finally leads Mrs. Richardson to dig into Mia’s past.
The book touches upon Motherhood, Racism, Suburban lifestyle, sacrifices, adjustments, and family dynamics. It talks about how our choices have consequences. It talks about the struggle of parenthood, the struggles of teenagers and the bad choices that we sometimes end up making. It is a beautifully written book and the characters and the story will live on in my mind for a very long time. I guess that is the power of characterizations. Maybe from now on, I shall be more forgiving of this. I would have missed out on a lovely read because of my prejudice.
By taking part in this Reading challenge, I have been able to get myself to read more. I am able to complete books that I have started and discarded. I have picked up books to read, which I would have otherwise not picked up at all. I believe I am evolving as a reader.