In an idyllic suburb, four young families quickly form a neighborhood clique, their friendships based on little more than the ages of their children and a shared sense of camaraderie. When one of the couples, Paige and Gene Edwards, adopt a four-year-old girl from Russia, the group's loyalty and morality is soon called into question. Are the Edwards unkind to their new daughter? Or is she a difficult child with hidden destructive tendencies?
As the seams of the group friendship slowly unravel, neighbor Nicole Westerhof finds herself drawn further into the life of the adopted girl, forcing Nicole to re-examine the deceptive nature of her own family ties, and her complicity in the events unfolding around her.
An interesting and mind-blowing look at the American suburban life, the secrets, the fake friends, the pretending and the smoke and mirrors people build to hide the truth about themselves, about their families, about their lives, and about the parenting.
The story is told from the first person point of view by one of the neighbors the inner clique of the cul-de-sac. The writing style is unique, like bulleting points directed to the mind of the reader, building up images, and getting to be rather addictive after you get into the story.
Nicole herself is struggling with her relationship with her mother and an alcoholic sister. She has anger issues and problems with impulse control when it comes to taking her frustration into her boys, the older son, in particular, having the constant battle in her mind not to physically punish him for not being exactly like she wanted him to be.
To shadow her own behavior as a parent, she starts to pick apart every moment of interaction the neighbors have with their new adoptive daughter, finding and focusing on the negative images created by the busy minds. Not saying nothing is wrong, and everything is fine with the Edwards, but the neighbors are determined to be the judge and the jury, to claim them bad parents from the very start of Winnie's arrival to the house.
This story took me by surprise. The raw honesty of the wicked human mind, the way people judge each other, the fakeness of pretend-friendships, the constant critique of others in a negative way, it ate my mind. Are we really that brutal towards each other? Do we really see so much negative aspects, in other people's lives around us? Is there real feelings. caring, friends, families out there at all? Is this something that happens 'only in America' or can this be an international, western world epidemic of the downfall of the human condition?
Yes, this story definitely made me think, and celebrate my own choices in life of never ending up in the suburbs. I think this story could be a great conversation starter in a book club if people dared to be open and honest about the thoughts and revelations the story wakes up in them.
A compelling story that awoke my mind with curiosity. It is provocative, it is engaging, and most definitely an interesting story, something I have to digest for a little while to really grasp the depth of the tale.
~ Four Spoons