Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Review: Home Repair

Summary: Can lighting really strike twice? Just ask Eve, whose husband walks out on her in the middle of a garage sale.
Eve's beloved Ivan died thirteen years ago in an automobile accident. Her charming, boyish Chuck has taken a different exit out of her life: hopping into his car in the middle of a garage sale with no forewarning and departing their formerly happy upstate New York home for points unknown. Now Eve's a boat adrift, subsisting on a heartbreak diet of rue, disappointment, and woe-left alone to care for Ivan's brilliant teen aged son, Marcus, and Chuck's precocious, pragmatic nine-year-old daughter, Noni, while contending with Charlotte, Eve's acerbic mother, who's come north to "help" but hinders instead.

But life ultimately must go on, with its highs and lows, its traumas and holidays, and well-meaning, if eccentric, friends. A house and a heart in disrepair are painful burdens for a passionate woman who's still in her prime. And while learning to cope with the large and small tragedies that each passing day brings, Eve might end up discovering that she's gained much more than she's lost.

A poignant, lovely, funny, and ultimately uplifting story of love, family, and survival, Liz Rosenberg's Home Repair is an unforgettable introduction to a lyrical, wise, and wonderfully vibrant new literary voice.-- Avon

In preparation for Book Club Girl's BlogTalk Radio show tonight, I read HOME REPAIR by Liz Rosenberg. This novel is about a woman's attempts to deal with her life after her husband unexpectedly deserts her and her children. As if dealing with the loss of a husband for the second time isn't enough (her first husband was in a fatal car accident), she also has to deal with an aging mother, problems with her job, her love life, her children and even money matters. As I read this novel, I kept wondering how much more poor Eve could handle.

My heart definitely went out to Eve, and she really was just a trooper despite all the "bad" things that happened to her along the way. I really liked her (and her family), but for some reason, I just didn't feel a connection with the characters in this story. I was very much bothered by my reaction to this book because I felt like I should felt something more. As I reflected on this novel, I think my problem is that I have led a very blessed life -- I guess that's not really a problem, is it? This book reflected some painful life experiences that I just couldn't relate to (thank goodness), and I think I was unable to make that connection to the characters. I have a feeling that I'm going to be in the minority with these feelings -- many readers are going to love Eve and see pieces of themselves in her character.

I did like Eve and think she was a remarkably strong woman. I can't imagine losing a husband and being left with a small child; however, my sympathy kind of dried up when her second husband left her because he was such an immature and selfish man. I know that women make bad relationship choices all the time, but I felt like she and her kids were better off on their own. I also felt bad about Eve having to deal with her mother's aging all by herself. My grandmother recently broke some bones in a fall and had to be admitted to a nursing home so I realize how difficult that can be for everyone involved.

What I really liked about this book were the messages that I could take away from it. To me, this book was really about life -- both the good and the bad, and the ups and the downs (although there seemed to be a lot of "bad" and "downs" for poor Eve.) I think Ms. Rosenberg showed the readers that change does occur in each of our lives whether we want it to or not -- stuff happens, people die, and life must go on. What happened to Eve in HOME REPAIR and how she handled it shows that life is full of both joys and sadness, and we can only control how we can deal with these things.

This book would make a very interesting book club discussion book. I wasn't able to find a reader's guide, but I think you could easily come up with some fantastic questions on your own. There are just so many universal themes about life that most everyone will relate to. I would love to spend an evening with my friends talking about the changes that occur in our lives and how we all cope with them. I also think there are some other interesting themes such as grief, friendships, parent/child relationships, guilt, and self confidence that will make for an exciting meeting.

I am really looking forward to tonight's show because I am very anxious to hear Ms. Rosenberg discuss HOME REPAIR. I absolutely love hearing authors discuss their books, and I also appreciate getting further insight into their characters and novels. If you want to learn more about Ms. Rosenberg before tonight's show, check out this video or this "fun stuff section." You can find more about the book as well as read an interesting little Q&A with the author.


Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

Sometimes it's tough when you can't relate to the characters. I've had times when I have still loved the book and others where I just couldn't get into it. Enjoy the book club show It's always fun to get perspective from the author.

Beth F said...

I find it hard to love a book when I can't truly relate to any of the characters. But it still sounds like a book I'd like try.

bermudaonion said...

I agree, Julie - Eve was a strong woman, who had a lot dumped on her. Your review is great!

Pam@iwriteinbooks said...

This is a great review. Like the ladies above me, I also find it difficult to really get into a book when I can't, in some pivotal way, relate to the characters. It still looks good, though. Enjoy your meeting, tonight!

Anna said...

Sounds like an interesting story, but I, too, need to connect with the characters on some level in order to really enjoy a book. I'll keep this one in mind, though.

Diary of an Eccentric

Anonymous said...

I've been having a bit of a struggle getting into it and relating Eve, as well, but I think mine is just a case of New-Computer-and-summer-blahs. If I settle down and just read, I'd probably do okay.

Very good review, and I'm looking forward to the show tonight. It's my first one :-)

booksbythebedmom said...

Ooh I totally related to this book and to Eve! Not because I've had my husband leave but who hasn't had heartbreak? Also I agreed with the caller who commented on all the humor. Made me laugh out loud. Thought the book show last night was fabulous, learned so much about the writing process. Great review, Julie,-- wonder if you feel different now that you've heard the author speak about the book?

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

This one looks interesting. I can't decide it I want to read it or not!

Sarah Jane said...

Really loved this book and could relate to the heartbreak even though am happily married. I definitely think most women know how it feels to be caught between growing parents and an elderly mom who dives in to help. That mom was so tough and mean at times, but loving-- she reminds me of my own mother. Interestingly, my husband said he really related to these characters, too! I hear the author is on a tour of the Cleveland area and that is where I am, so I plan to go hear her next week.

David said...

This book is terrific. If I had to relate to every character and what they go through I'd never read War & Peace because I haven't gone to war. Someone mentioned chick lit, let me just say I am a guy, and have been dumped, so I know how it feels-- but I mostly read in order to have experiences I have not had in real life, in order to expand who I am as a human being. Why else do we read if not to get bigger?

Liquid EPDM said...

Very struggling effort you have done..nice