Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Place For Us: A Novel by Liza Gyllenhaal

A Place For Us: A Novel.  Liza Gyllenhaal. Penguin Group (USA). March 2013. 336 pp. hbk. ISBN #: 9780451239235.

Brook Bostock wonders in the back of her mind whether her husband, Michael, married her for love or for her family’s money.  Both are deeply in love with each other after fifteen years of marriage. They moved back to Michael’s hometown but his family has never really accepted her, believing her penchant for entertaining extravagantly is showing off.  In reality, it’s a part of the successful business she and her friend have developed over the years.  Now the very foundations of their life are about to be challenged big time.

Their son, Liam, has always been close to a girl Phoebe.  One night he arrives with his friend Brandon and Carey, who are brothers.  All have been drinking way too much and Phoebe is sexually attacked by one of them.  Her parents, especially her father Troy, are more than outraged when they see the bruises on her body and promise to bring legal action.  Phoebe initially in a moment of anger at something Liam said, a terrible betrayal of their relationship, accuses the attacker and rumors begin to fly.  The town is a rumor mill that demands retribution from Brook and Michael, holding them responsible for the terrible events of that night.

The novel continues to depict the quandary about who is to blame, parental responsibilities, and the attitude of those who believe the wealthy can buy their way out of any illegality or immorality.  To say more would be a spoiler, but suffice to say there’s no guessing the outcome.  The pages fly and the intensity deepen over an issue that is timeless and has happened to more than one unfortunate family, wealthy or not.  Liza Gyllenhaal is a writer to note well as she definitely knows how to craft not only the central issue but also the teenage angst of those who have failed and are trying to find enough self-worth to surmount their greatest weakness.  Self-identity is the essence of the characters’ struggles and its true definition and evolution.  Very nicely done, Liza Gyllenhaal!

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