Tuesday, Sep 1, 2009
Author: Kathleen McCleary
ISBN #: 978-1-4013-4104-6
Pages: 262 Trade Paperback
Paperback Reprint: July 7, 2009
Purchase: $11.99 (HERE)
Ellen Flanagan loves her yellow, Cape-Cod style home in Oregon. In fact, she loves this house so much that she can’t begin to imagine anybody else living in that home but her own family. Ellen is a married, mother of two little girls and an entrepenuer who runs her own local coffee shop, Coffee@Home. Other than the fact that she is experiencing some major martial woes, she loves her life living next door to her best friend and in that perfect neighborhood. Her husband, Sam, is an inventor, whose dreams have caused the family financial hardship. Sam asks Ellen to relocate the family New York to support him in pursuit of his dream, but she loves her life in Oregon. They try to keep the family together, allowing him to work at home on his latest and greatest invention, by placing an additional mortgage on the home. Unfortunately, the “great invention” doesn’t take off and they are forced so sell their home. She was so frustrated and hurt with the position that Sam had put them in that she and Sam separated.
Their wonderful house is sold to the “anti-Ellen,” Jordan Boyce and her husband Jeffrey. Ellen has managed to negotiate a short rent-back of the house from the new owners, but the move into her new house is impending and the date just keeps closing in on her. After meeting Jordan, Ellen is more unwilling than ever to let her home go to the horrible woman who plans on practically gutting it and re-designing the entire interior. So? What is a woman to do? She devises a plan that would assure that if she can’t have her home, nobody will.
In the meantime, her little girls are desperately trying to do anything they can to live in their home. Sam strives to make a reconciliation in their marriage, however all that Ellen can think about is the house and the looming move. A handsome stranger enters her life that adds more turmoil than assistance to the situation. What Ellen needs to discover through this process is that a house doesn’t make a home… the family who lives in it does!
I bought our family home from my Grandmother’s “estate.” More than just the ties to my grandparents, I grew up in this neighborhood. The palm trees that line my streets are the same ones that swung in the breeze when I was a child, they’re just much taller now. I live a couple of miles from the beach, 5 houses down from my ex-husband (*grace or menance…? jury’s still out!*), a few houses down from my best buddy, and surrounded by the familiar faces that I’ve known my entire life. This neighborhood is my home. I belong here and my children belong here. Their father loves this neighborhood as much as I do. It’s just home.
When I bought the house, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to take advantage of a California property tax law that kept our property taxes VERY low. So, when we were looking to buy a place so that we could settle down and get pets, we compared the cost of condos & townhomes to the cost of our home. Because of the tax benefit, this house would actually cost less than a lower-priced condo when you added in the full tax assessment and HOA dues. So, we saved and saved… and tried and tried. And, we bought it! Unfortunately, at the height of the market, but we bought it. And, it’s ours. And, we love it. We filled it with animals and love.
On a shoe-string budget ($3K), we renovated this house from a 1972 decor to a more modern one. Most everything we did, was from scratch. We tore out landscaping & re-built planters, we painted our hearts out, and installed new lighting. You name it, other than rolling the carpet, we did it. It’s our home. OURS! We filled it with animals and love.
Sure, my house needs lots of work. With a roof that’s over 35 years old and carpet that can hardly make it another day, broken closet doors, and a non-functioning toilet, we need to put more love (and money) into the repair of the home. But, despite it’s faults, it’s the only place that we’ve ever felt so completely happy and grounded. We love this home. We’ve lived here for over 6 years, 3 of which we’ve spent as owners. With my unemployment and major life changes, it is my family’s only hope, dream, desire, and drive to keep the house and our animals. All the rest of the stuff doesn’t matter… the car, the vacations, the clothes, whatever… only the home matters. I would have never imagined that I’d ever be unemployed this long as I not ever been unemployed for more than 6 weeks in my entire life. With my career expertise, I always maintained that I’d bring in a certain level of income to manage my mortgage payments. Right now, it’s so difficult and so tight. But, we have the desire to make it work and keep our home. Luckily, we’ve qualified for a loan modification and we’re managing so far. We may have to let everything else go… but, we’ve got the home. Our home.
Lisa, of Books On The Brain & TLC Book Tours, knows my story. She hears my heart when I talk about how much I love my home and how I’ll do anything to keep it. I think that’s why she thought I might be just the person to review this book. She was right!
Immediately, I completely and totally connected with Ellen. I understood her passion for her home and the memories it contained. The echos of their lives were there.
This book is about suffering a loss that strikes you at the core. And, yet it is also about the discovery of what truly makes your house a home.
I found the book to be well-written, perfectly paced, filled with completely real characters, and hitting all kinds of chords with me. It’s a funny read… and a sad one. It’s filled with emotions that just give the reader an overall great experience. I simply loved the book!
On Sher’s “Out of Ten Scale,” I am giving House & Home a rating of 9 out of 10. The novel just fit me like a glove and I could have read more about Ellen, Sam, and the girls… I really could have! The ending was a happy one, which made me feel good about closing the book. I think that it’s a real art for an author to be able to write about a real, touching topic and yet be able to write it with humor and in a realistic way. McCleary did a great job!
I wanted to thank Lisa of TLC Book Tours for including me on this book tour. She couldn’t have picked a better one for me!