Review: Drinking Closer to Home
Author: Jessica Anya Blau
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Rating: 3.5 Bookmarks
Source: Pubisher via netGalley
Nat’s One-Sentence Synopsis: Not a typical dysfunctional family novel, Jessica Anya Blau infuses Drinking Closer to Home with humor, drama, and great dialogue.
Many months ago, I received (and promptly read) Drinking Closer to Home. After finishing it, I remember thinking: Gee, maybe my family isn’t quite as idiosyncratic as I think we are! Reading it again last week, I still felt the same wave of relief but also an understanding that every family has quirks; I’m happy have people who love me despite all of mine!
The Stein family lived an unorthodox life in Southern California, and the novel shifts back and forth from the 70s to present day, where matriarch, Louise, is hospitalized after suffering a heart attack. Despite her protests, her husband of 30-plus years calls their three adult children home from the East Coast back to Santa Barbara. The flashbacks provide the backstory.
I vacilated between liking and loathing Louise; my anger at her abandonment of motherhood–she “quit” one day when her son Emery was still toddling around, left to be raised by his pre-teen sisters–and then finding myself unwittingly laughing at her on the next page. Louise was a free-spirit, to be sure!
Growing up in a home where bathing, housekeeping, and any type of discipline fall by the wayside, the kids are almost set up for lives fraught with issues…and they don’t disappoint. But this novel is about more than just addictions, adultery, and secrets; Drinking Closer to Home depicts a family whose bond is only made stronger by their antics, struggles, and defeats. They are loved and love each other despite the flaws.
Solid characterization, realistic dialogue, and hearty doses of humor elevated Drinking Closer to Home. It is rich with discussion points and would make an ideal pick for a book club or adult family read.
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