Broken Homes & Gardens Review

Broken Homes & GardensBroken Homes & Gardens by Rebecca Kelley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Can a man and woman be friends? Harry asked Sally this in the popular 80’s flick, and one of my favorite movies of all time, When Harry Met Sally. This assumes that the man and the woman we are speaking of are interested in the opposite sex. Rebecca Kelley’s debut novel, Broken Homes & Gardens, also attempts to answer this question for the modern reader.

Malcolm and Joanna meet at a party and subsequently end up in bed and then write letters to each other while he goes overseas for a year. They were never really friends, were they? Of course they were. Kelley does a beautiful job of pulling together their friendship and the attraction for the length of the novel. We see how they complement each other. Joanna is a little boxed in and must follow her self-imposed rules and teaches Malcolm to answer for his actions. Malcolm is more open and free and teaches Joanna to let go.

Joanna is convinced that she only wants to be friends with Malcolm in order to remain in his life forever. If they were to get into a romantic entanglement it would end sooner rather than continue on into infinity. Joanna struggles wholeheartedly to deny herself her feelings for Malcolm that we wonder if they will ever end up together, or if they even should.

Malcom on the other hand is a strong character who knows what he wants, but isn’t sure if he can win over the part of Joanna that struggles to push him away. Malcolm is just the type of level-headed, laid back, and good-with-his-hands type of guy that a lot women would love to have vying for their attention. Yet, Joanna struggles with the concept of getting into a long-term relationship with him.

The passion portrayed on the pages lends to the overall authenticity created within the lives of these characters. We are driven to root for these two to somehow make it through their own self-imposed restrictions and hope they end up together.

Kelley answers the question I posed at the beginning of this review with: men and women can be friends and lovers if they listen to their hearts.

Interview with the author to come! Check my website for the update.

Disclaimer: I am friends with the author and received a review copy.

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Review: The Tiger’s Wife

The Tiger's Wife
The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I admired the quality of writing throughout this book. I loved much of the story told. My favorite thread was The Deathless Man. I kind of forgot about the thread about Natalia (the main character) and how she was a doctor looking for her grandfather’s clothes, so that one wasn’t very memorable.

Overall, I do wish that I would have gotten to know the character’s a bit more. I think I just like to know who is telling the story and why we need to care about the main characters. There were a few parts that went into far too much mundane detail (toward the end with the apothecary). Once I took a breath and read for the quality of writing I was fine. I felt like one of the family members sitting around on a porch listening to stories about different people we knew. I loved that about the book. I could imagine my grandmother telling me about her sister’s hair dresser etc. and how one time there was a tiger who crept into the salon etc. I enjoyed that meandering storytelling because of the way I’ve been told my own family stories. I thought that was a beautiful and delicate touch that wasn’t too heavy handed.

In the end, I was a little confused. I was wondering about the actual ending and how that fit into the overall story. I felt like it wasn’t quite there, but I liked what it was trying to do (which I’m not 100% sure I got). I was trying to connect it to the overall story and it left me a little baffled. I felt like the story of the Deathless Man was a little stronger than the Tiger’s Wife part (or maybe I just liked it better) so I wondered why the book was called this. To me, it didn’t give the book any extra meaning, which isn’t necessary, but I think I wanted a little more.

I think this is a talented writer and I’m waiting to see what her next book will be like.

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