Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Book Review: "The Two-Family House" by Lynda Cohen Loigman

The Two-Family House Lynda Cohen Loigman
Published: March 8, 2016
ISBN: 9781250076922
Genre: Historical Fiction (mid-20th Century USA)
Source: Publisher
Highly Recommended

You might enjoy this book if you like: Family sagas, Jewish Fiction, mid-20th Century historical fiction


Brooklyn, 1947: in the midst of a blizzard, in a two-family brownstone, two babies are born minutes apart to two women. They are sisters by marriage with an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic night; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and their once deep friendship begins to unravel. No one knows why, and no one can stop it. One misguided choice; one moment of tragedy. Heartbreak wars with happiness and almost but not quite wins.

My Thoughts:
When it comes to books, tears are always a good sign...and there were plenty of them here.  They weren't big ugly tears (thank goodness!), but instead the quiet tears that seep out when something hits you to your very core.

This is the story of one family that becomes two.  Mort and Abe are brothers, who own a two-family house in Brooklyn.  Abe, the older, lives in the upper unit with his wife Helen and 4 sons.  Mort lives below, with his wife, Rose, and three daughters. While everyone gets along, the families are vastly different.

Abe and Helen have a happy family.  The only thing that seems to be missing is the daughter that Helen desperately wants.  Of course she loves her sons, but she can't help but be a little jealous of her sister-in-law and her 3 sisters.

Mort and Rose have a different marriage.  Mort is not an easy guy--at first he almost seems as though he is on the autism spectrum, but then his development over the course of the book doesn't really support that.  He is, however, a man who doesn't really feel in control of his life and takes that out on everyone around him.  I know, not a pleasant guy.  However, of all the characters in the book, he is the most dynamic.

Rose was a personally interesting character.  I didn't like her, but she was the one who made the book for me.  You see, there were things about her that I could relate to--she seems to have a wicked case of post-partum depression, something that I experienced.  She also feels stifled by having so much family around all the time, which is also something that I've dealt with.  Because I could relate to her so much, I didn't see the real picture of what was happening in the story....

....which meant that I was completely shocked at  where this plot went.  It is so rare for me to experience that with a book that, if nothing else, this alone would lead me to recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

The story is told through the eyes of several characters, which is a tricky technique.  More often than not, I've seen it fail in books--but Loigman succeeds here.  The family situation here is so faceted that, really, the only way this story can be told is through many different characters--any other way and the reader wouldn't be able to put the pieces together.

I really can't think of a single nitpicky criticism about this book.  It was one that I couldn't put down and one that stayed with me long after I finished the last page (and wiped away my tears).  I highly, highly recommend it!

I was given a copy of this book in return for an honest review.  I received no other compensation for this post.

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