Thursday, January 22, 2015
For veterinarian Geneva Novak, animals can be easier to understand than people. They’re also easier to forgive. But when her mother, Helen, is injured in a vodka-fueled accident, it’s up to Geneva to give her the care she needs.
Since her teens, Geneva has kept her self-destructive mother at arm’s length. Now, with two slippery teenagers of her own at home, the last thing she wants is to add Helen to the mix. But Geneva’s husband convinces her that letting Helen live with them could be her golden chance to repair their relationship.
Geneva isn’t expecting her mother to change anytime soon, but she may finally get answers to the questions she’s been asking for so long. As the truth about her family unfolds, however, Geneva may find secrets too painful to bear and too terrible to forgive. -- NAL Accent
If you are a regular follower of my blog, then you might have noticed that I'm in a bit of a reading slump. Initially, I blamed the holidays, but now that they are long gone, I'm realizing that it's me. I just don't have the time or even the desire some days to sit down and read. It's almost like I can't focus on books or writing right now -- hopefully it's a phase, right?
Anyway... I recently read a book titled HOUSE BROKEN by Sonja Yoerg that I did enjoy quite a bit, and it most definitely wasn't a chore for me! This novel tells the story of Geneva, a mom and veterinarian, that is finally coming to terms with her relationships with her mother and family.
Geneva began distancing herself from Helen, her mother, in her teens when it was apparent that she was not making good decisions about her life; however, after a drunk driving accident injures Helen, Geneva reluctantly decides to take her into her home while she recovers. She was concerned about the effect it would have on her family, especially her two impressionable teens, but her husband convinced her it was the right thing to do. Maybe, just maybe, it was time for Helen and Geneva to "fix" their relationship.
It's no surprise to Geneva that her mother hasn't changed and is still making some very selfish choices. But what Geneva discovers is that her mother has been covering up a lot of horrific family secrets. Geneva is forced to face the truth about her past while also trying to keep her family together.
I thought HOUSE BROKEN was both an intriguing and touching story about one very dysfunctional family... and I do appreciate stories about messed-up families. I was very impressed with Ms. Yoerg's writing, and I was surprised to learn that this is her first novel. She has a unique ability to weave a story that way always interesting, and at the same time, create some well-developed characters. I am looking forward to seeing what's next for this very promising author.
There were quite a few things that I enjoyed about HOUSE BROKEN, but what stood out to me was the way the author revealed the story. It didn't take long for me to start figuring out some of the dirty secrets from Helen's past and Geneva's childhood; however, there was so much more to their story that did catch me off-guard. I loved how complex the story was -- it was almost a mystery of sorts; and I really liked how the author decided to reveal the truth in bits and pieces.
In addition, I loved the characters in this story... and by that, I mean I appreciated how well written they were, not that I necessarily liked them. At first, I thought Helen was a stereotypical "bad" mom and alcoholic; however, I discovered that she was much more complex than I initially thought. I even began to feel bad for her and that was a stretch because I was furious with her for most of the novel.
Likewise, I thought Geneva was a fantastic character. She certainly had her fair share of quirks (many of which I share), but it was understandable why she was the way she was given her upbringing. It was interesting to see how she coped with learning about her past as well as how she was able to move forward with that information. As a mother, I definitely appreciated the portrayal of her relationship with her daughter; and I truly think Ms. Yoerg got the relationship "stuff" in this novel right!
I'm sure you can tell by the book's description that HOUSE BROKEN would make an excellent choice for book clubs. There is a reading guide included in the back of the book, but it does contain spoilers so I don't recommend checking it out until after you've read the story. Some of the themes you might want to explore include alcoholism, marriage, mother/daughter relationships, forgiveness, honestly, trust, abuse, and secrets.
HOUSE BROKEN is a terrific debut novel. It will capture your interest and your heart. Highly recommended!
Thanks to the author and publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.