By: Dan Pope
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 5/12/2015
My Rating: 4 Stars
In this gripping, gorgeous literary drama, two suburban families are hopelessly entangled during an explosive Thanksgiving weekend that changes their lives forever.
When Benjamin’s wife kicks him out of their house, he returns to his childhood home in Connecticut to live with his widowed father. Lost, lonely, and doubting everything he felt he knew about marriage and love—even as his eighty-year-old father begins to date again—Benjamin is trying to put his life back together when he recognizes someone down the street: his high school crush, the untouchable Audrey Martin. Audrey has just moved to the neighborhood with her high-powered lawyer husband and their rebellious teenager, Emily. As it turns out, Audrey isn’t so untouchable anymore, and she and Benjamin begin to discover, in each other’s company, answers to many of their own deepest longings. Meanwhile, as the neighborhood is wracked by a mysterious series of robberies, Audrey seems to be hiding a tragic secret, and her husband, Andrew, becomes involved in a dangerous professional game he can never win. And, by the way, who is paying attention to Emily?
Powerful, provocative, and psychologically gripping, Housebreaking explores the ways that two families—and four lives—can all too easily veer off track, losing sight of everyone, and everything, they once held dear. Like the best from Tom Perotta and Rick Moody, who capture the darker truths of modern suburban life, this literary triumph from an immensely talented writer offers an insightful and funny, yet terrifyingly authentic portrait of modern suburban life that reveals, hauntingly, how little we know of one another’s lives.
A special thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
E N T E R T A I N I N G ! Dan Pope, delivers a witty, psychological, and contemporary portrayal- HOUSEBREAKING, of modern American suburban relationships – two families and four lives, a journey of dysfunction, fidelity, desire, and loss. A husband, Benjamin Mandelbaum is a cheater, and has done so, one time too many. Judy, his wife had given him one more chance and he blew it. However, this time it is more the incriminating evidence which convicted him before the jury was out. Ben, mid-forties, distraught returns to his childhood home, (with his dog) to a suburb of Hartford, Connecticut, where his widower eighty- year- old father, Leonard resides. He is not thrilled with moving in with his dad and now feeling like a loser having to move into his old room; and even worse his dad has started dating. He misses his wife and his family. Things begin to heat up and look a little more exciting, when surprisingly, a girl from his past turns out to be his neighbor and how interesting it is. Audrey, now a housewife and mother of a troubled teen daughter, married to a lawyer, who does not pay her too much attention. However, Ben is there to pick up the slack, as he happened to be attracted her way back when, and appears as it is still going strong (lots of excitement here, with hormones flying). Audrey is carrying a secret, and she appears to be receiving some release with Ben, while her husband evidently has a roving eye, as well and trying out the "other side", with a business associate. The entire family is rebelling, as their teenage daughter, Emily is acting out after losing her brother, as well. She is hanging out with the wrong crowd, and now she is teaming up with the neighborhood thief by breaking into homes, including Bens. As the pressure builds something has to give with the lives hiding behind the façade of a happy suburban neighborhood. When life gets in the way, Pope uses flawed characters, family drama, humor, obstacles, and tragedy to bring this group to their senses for an insightful and engaging account into complexities of marriage, family, love and loss. Wisteria Lane and Desperate Housewives, move over- you may have some competition.
About the Author
Dan Pope is the author of Housebreaking (Simon & Schuster, 2015) and In the Cherry Tree (Picador USA, 2003).
His short stories have appeared in many journals, including Crazyhorse, Harvard Review, Iowa Review, McSweeney's (No. 4), Shenandoah, Gettysburg Review, and others.
He is a 2002 graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, where he attended on a Truman Capote Fellowship. He is a winner of the Glenn Schaeffer Award from the International Institute of Modern Letters, and grants in fiction from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts. Website