What’s it about?
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother- who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town – and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at an unexpected and devastating cost…
I don’t know much about this author and haven’t read any of her other work but I bought this book on pre-order when I heard that Reese Witherspoon had bought the production rights and will be adapting it into a TV drama.
The book follows a spoilt, entitled all-American family and a family from the other side of the tracks, so you could say very much two different scales of the spectrum.
As with most books based on family dramas tensions rise and secrets eventually out. I can’t say that I really empathised with any of the characters, none of them being truly happy or that likeable. I couldn’t even connect with Mia, who as a single mother, I should have had some empathy with but there was nothing.
It’s a strange one really because it wasn’t boring, but it didn’t grip me either. The plot was too slow for me, and so just ended up being a drawn out family saga/drama with an unsatisfactory ending which just made me think, why bother? The main thread of the story just left hanging.
I gave the book 3* which, for me was on the slightly generous side, as I do appreciate how well the book was written and for those that enjoy more character led books, this will appeal to you, but for me, I didn’t get what all the fuss is about.
Small print for info
No of pages: 400