Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Review: You Could Be Home By Now by Tracy Manaster

An hour and a half outside Tucson, Arizona, The Commons is a luxury retirement community where no full-time resident under the age of fifty-five is permitted. Young professionals Seth and Alison Collier accept jobs there as a means of dealing (badly) with a recent loss. When a struggling resident, underwater on her mortgage and unable to relocate due to the nation s ongoing housing crisis, is discovered to be raising her grandson in secret, the story--with the help of a well-meaning teenaged beauty blogger and a retiree with reasons of his own to seek the spotlight--goes viral. "You Could Be Home By Now" explores the fallout for all involved, taking on the themes of grief and memory, aspiration and social class, self-deception, and the drive in all of us to find a place to belong."

Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: December 5th 2014 by Tyrus Books 
Genre: Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

There are a few different stories going on in this book all set within a luxury retirement community. There is Seth and Alison, a young couple, who take jobs at The Commons as a way to run away from the grief of losing their baby at birth. Ben is a retired veterinarian who lives in the community and struggles with the disappearance of his daughter years earlier and his divorce. There is also Lily who comes to stay with her Gran when she finds herself in trouble at home. She is sent to stay under the pretext that she is there to help her Gran get through the one year anniversary of her Grandfather's death. Finally there are the Rosko's, a Grandmother who is raising her grandson in the community even though children are not allowed to live there.

I have to admit that I wasn't sure what to think of this book at first. There are many characters and it took me a little while to sort who was who. After that it kind of started growing on me. It is uniquely written and uses a bit a humour to deal with difficult situations. Basically it is a story about the struggles of a bunch of different people within one community and how they deal with it.

I did have a few issues with the characters in that I didn't really like most of them. Perhaps this was because in difficult or challenging situations we don't necessarily get to see the pretty side of people. Maybe it was intentional. I didn't hate them, except Lily, but I didn't love them either which made it hard for me to route for them and care about the outcome.

In the end, it was a unique story about a group of different people in the same setting with unique sets of problems and what happens when they are all co-existing in the same community. The way Manaster gets inside these characters heads and is able to articulate these thoughts on the pages is what really won me over in the end. I'm glad I had the opportunity to read it.

About the Author

Tracy Manaster is a graduate of Wesleyan University and The Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was the 2006 recipient of the National League of American Pen Women's Joanna Catherine Scott prize for novel excerpt. Her nonfiction has appeared in iAgora and Moxie magazines and as interactive exhibit texts for the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and twin daughters.

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