Note about my Reviews
Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Review: The Heights by Peter Hedges
Dutton, Penguin Books
Received free from Library Things Member Giveaway Program
Description: Tim Welch is a popular history teacher at the Montague Academy, an exclusive private school in Brooklyn Heights. As he says, "I was an odd-looking, gawky kid but I like to think my rocky start forced me to develop empathy, kindness, and a tendency to be enthusiastic. All of this, I'm now convinced, helped in my quest to be worthy of Kate Oliver." Now, Kate is not inherently ordinary. But she aspires to be. She stays home with their two young sons in a modest apartment trying desperately to become the parent she never had. They are seemingly the last middle-class family in the Heights, whose world is turned upside down by Anna Brody, the new neighbor who moves into the most expensive brownstone in Brooklyn, sending the local society into a tailspin.
Anna is not only beautiful and wealthy; she's also mysterious. And for reasons Kate doesn't quite understand, even as all the Range Rover- driving moms jockey for invitations into Anna's circle, Anna sets her sights on Kate and Tim and brings them into her world.
Jen's Review: I had a feeling I would like this one, just because the author wrote the screenplay for two delightful movies that I love, About a Boy and Dan in Real Life. He has a talent for creating characters that are flawed, complex but lovable. In other words Real! I really enjoyed this novel and did not want to put it down. It is a deftly told tale of the dangers of keeping secrets in a marriage. The storyline was compelling and the characters interesting, almost like you know people just like them. The writing is crisp and at times laugh out loud funny -- trust me, I snorted on the bus many a time!
I loved the scene where Kate called Tim to tell him that there son had finally pooped in the potty. This is the world I belong to and it is truly the little things in life that parents often treasure and celebrate. This is where Peter Hedges excels in both his novels and his screenplays, he captures some of these "real" moments beautifully and truthfully. Many a time while reading this I felt myself nodding vigorously along with some of his observations on life, marriage and children. As a married (For 16 years) mom with two small boys I have understood and felt the emotions that Kate is struggling with. I felt myself hoping that even though Tim and Kate were in a situation that has destroyed many a marriage, that they would make it.
My only disappointment with the novel, was the character of Anna. I didn't find her character very developed, almost like she was a caricature of a real person. I really could not understand the fascination that the other characters had for her.
Most importantly for me, there was an illusion to a happy ending for the couple. Maybe this makes me a simple person, but I NEED a happy ending for me to truly enjoy a story.
Some of my favorite quotes or passages.
"I amused them and even myself, and for a few hours I was not only the mother I never had, I was the mother of all mothers"
"Hurry home, okay? We won't flush until you get here"
"I remembered something Tim once said: Children fall asleep so you can love them again"
"I mean he's begging me for it, so I make Dan the Bear an offer "Fine sweetie. Make a million by Easter and you can F*** me in the A**" ...
Some Men wait their whole lives to overhear this kind of conversation. Unfortunately, it was time to go pick up Teddy and Sam from preschool, so I stood up to leave. From the stunned expressions on their collective faces, it became clear that while they hadn't noticed me before, they noticed me now..... So to put them at ease, I turned and said. "Forgive the intrusion, but what happens if he doesn't make the money?" Claudia paused. "I haven't provided for t hat" "My suggestion for what it's worth, if he doesn't make the million by Easter -- then YOU f*** him in the a**. Then Claudia slapped her knee and roared triumphantly "Yes!"
I will be surprised if this novel is not turned into a movie.