Sunday, February 7, 2010

Home Repair by Liz Rosenberg

People believed bad things came in threes. Eve thought they came in packs, like wolves.

If troubles come in packs, nobody would know better than Eve. When her husband simply drives off during her summer yard sale under the guise of running errands and doesn't return, life becomes very complicated for Eve, and that's only the beginning. Suddenly finding herself a single mom to her two children, teenage Marcus and nine-year-old Noni, Eve is adrift. With Chuck's departure, it seems that everything in Eve's life is coming unglued. Her aging mother, Charlotte Dunrea, moves from the south to Binghamton, ostensibly to help, but actually needing much more help than she's able give. Eve fears for her job when an unhinged co-worker calls her purpose into question. Her one possible romantic interest seems hardly interested in her. She can't even take her dogs to the park and train them on the racquetball courts that have fallen into disuse for the winter without raising the ire of a slightly frightening, if ultimately goodhearted, park worker. All this is not to mention her almost ex-husband who seems to be popping up on the phone and even in person, just when Eve thinks she might be able to move on from the wreckage of their relationship.

Home Repair is a book that calls to mind the sort of books Laura Moriarty (The Center of Everything, The Rest of Her Life) writes. It's the kind of book where nothing especially major seems to happen, but it serves as a slice of the life of memorable and sympathetic characters who remind us of ourselves. It's hard not to feel for Eve as she navigates the everyday trials that are piling up at her front door even as she tries to adjust to tackling problems all on her own. Her two children, Marcus, a politically inclined gifted public speaker who can't seem to get his driver's license, and Noni, who, at nine years, seems preternaturally wise and yet unable to grasp why her father would simply leave one summer day, easily draw our sympathy as well.

Home Repair is a great story of a woman finding herself and discovering just what she is capable of on her own. It's a story about family and how sometimes the best families aren't always made up of people who are actually related. It's even a story of how it's never too late for love to make a difference in our lives.

Sometimes the story is a little too fragmented, and sometimes I thought it might benefit from a good, compelling first person narration that packs more of an emotional punch, as seen in Laura Moriarty's books, but ultimately Home Repair is a story with heart and is a well-worth-reading contribution to that "genre" of books that exposes the lives of all those characters that are just like you and me while at the same time making us think twice about the good things in our lives that are all too easy to take for granted.

(Review copy provided by the author.)


  1. I love the cover and hope to read this book, even though it seems to have some issues.

  2. It sounds like you liked this one more than I did. I thought it needed more character development.

  3. Lovely review, Megan. This is the kind of book I normally read, but honestly I'm not sure why. I suspect I would probably actually enjoy it quite a bit.

  4. Sounds like a story right up my alley! I'm sure I would agree with your suggestion regarding a first-person narration... I've found that books without that powerful "I" voice don't resonate as well with me. I like getting a story from the perspective of one specific person, even if it's flawed. Great review!

  5. Diane - Yeah, isn't the cover cool? I think it's a good book but that maybe it could have dug just a little deeper.

    Kathy - It's a little odd I think. Reflecting on the book, it seems like many of the secondary characters were more fully developed than Eve herself. I wonder if it wasn't a little intentional since Eve still seems to be discovering who she is without a partner.

    Debi - You probably would. There's definitely something about books like this that works for me (and you too, it sounds like) even though there's often not a whole lot of action going on.

    Meg - I, like you, love a good convincing first person narrator, and I'm always surprised when other readers say that they don't. I guess maybe it's a hard thing for a writer to pull off, and when a first person narrator doesn't have a distinctive voice, a book can flop. When it's good, it's great, though, and I find that most of my favorite books have really well-done first-person narrators.