Thursday, January 7, 2010

a review of "Home Repair" [2]

Home Repair- A Novel by Liz Rosenberg
(Harper Collins, ISBN 978-0-06-173456-4)

In a short "Inspiration for Home Repair" question and answer section at the end of this edition of the book, the author is asked if the novel is a sad one or a comic one. She answers that it is both, "Laughter and tears are such close companions, sometimes you hardly know where one ends and the other begins." And that is certainly true of story told in this charming, enjoyable novel.

Eve has had to face tragedy in the past, when thirteen years ago, when she was just 33, her beloved first husband Ivan was killed in a car accident, leaving her to raise their son Marcus, now a high school student. When her second husband, Chuck, disappears, leaving his wife, stepson and their 9 year old daughter Noni, not to mention his mother in law waiting for her drive to the airport, the cause is rather different. He packs his car up and sneaks off in the middle of a yard sale.
"Her husband had walked out in the middle of a rare Binghamton summers's day. She knew as surely as if he had bent over her, lanky as her was, and whispered it into her ear, his blond hair brushing her skin. He was simply-gone."
And at first Eve does not react terrible well to this event. She stops eating, is losing weight, showing up for her job as an administrator in the art department of the local NY State University in layers of wrinkled clothes. Afraid that her fix-me-up house is going to crash down around her ears, blue smoke pouring out of her aged car, concerned about the constant cut backs at work, two children at home, each with their own issues, from high school dances and first loves to the disappearance of their father, she is overwhelmed with facing this all alone.

But she is not alone. Little does she know a whole cast of characters will become part of her life and take it in directions she could never have foreseen. And it is maybe that cast that I found the most delightful aspect of this book. We have Charlotte Dunrea, her mother, a real "character", who moves up from Tennessee to "help out", Jonah, the African American parks department worker, Korean graduate student Sook-yun and perhaps my favorite character, his Korean wife Mia, a woman with hidden talents and strengths, just to name a few.
There are tragedies...heartbreaking deaths and funerals.
There is high when Eve acts as the driver for her mother and her new boyfriend, a fellow nursing home resident, when they go out on a date...and almost get thrown out of Applebee's.
There is a life threatening act of bravery, there is love to be found in unexpected places. There is the support of family, the help of friends and all ending with a surprising and totally charming wedding.
"Why does anyone bother to become friends with anyone, or adopt a child, or own a pet, for that matter. We're all going to die sooner or later, if that's what you're thinking," Charlotte said. "That's life. Nothing we can do to change that. We're all going to someday say good-bye. We're all going to have to cry, little girl," she said, putting one hand out to touch Eve's hair. The touch did not quite happen, but hovered, and then settled back down, like a butterfly, still quivering. "We might as well be happy while we can."
Rosenberg is a beautiful writer, her work as a poet often evident in her descriptions, telling a nice story with some charming characters. That's a lot to be happy about.

My thanks to the author for this copy of the book. If I had hated it, I would has said so, but I was very happy to have enjoyed it a great deal and to be able to share that with my readers instead.


  1. There are so many empowerment, quirky-character books out there, but not all of them pull it off. It sounds like this one did, quite well. Thanks for this most excellent review!

  2. Your review has me interested in HOME REPAIRS; it's meatier than I realized. (great FTC disclosure!)

  3. In my grand promise to clean up any lingering ARC's, I picked it up...and fear ran through me. It was a book I was well concerned I would not like.
    The characters saved me!

  4. I have this on my wish list. The cover sucked me in. Thanks for the great review Caite....sounds good.

  5. This is the first time I have heard of this book, but you have intrigued me. It will definitely be added to the TBR list.

  6. You liked this more than I did. I did like the characters, but I wanted more meat to the story.

  7. I agree Kathy, it is not a book that is about the plot. Things do happen, some important things, but the emphasis is on the people.
    Personally, I found that sort of low key approach to what was happening made it feel more real for me.

  8. Sounds like a lovely book. I love when books that could have been depressing end up being happy like that.

  9. Daggone, I can't even get thru the 1st week of the year w/o adding to the TBR pile. Your great review has me on the lookout for this one.

  10. jenners, I admit I was a bit concerned when I picked it up, that it would be a downer. I think it ended up a nice balance.

    tina, I am sorry. what can I do? ;-)
    now we know jenners is buying NO NEW BOOKS THIS WHOLE YEAR! right?

  11. This was a wonderful review....I'm captivated by this story!


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