Pretty Little World by Elizabeth LaBan and Melissa DePino
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
Genres: Adult Fiction, Contemporary
On a cozy street in Philadelphia, three neighboring families have become the best of friends. They can’t imagine life without one another—until one family outgrows their tiny row house. In a bid to stay together, a crazy idea is born: What if they tear down the walls between their homes and live together under one roof? And so an experiment begins.
Celia and Mark now have the space they need. But is this really what Celia’s increasingly distant husband wants? Stephanie embraces the idea of one big, happy family, but has she considered how it may exacerbate the stark differences between her and her husband, Chris? While Hope always wanted a larger family with Leo, will caring for all the children really satisfy that need?
Behind closed doors, they strive to preserve the closeness they treasure. But when boundaries are blurred, they are forced to question their choices…and reimagine the true meaning of family.
I thought the idea within this book was interesting. After a disastrous water leak ruins the walls between two row houses, a group of neighbors (who are also close friends) decide to tear down the first floor walls between their homes and live together. They shared responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning and child-rearing. This was not as if they were simply roommates. It was as if they were a giant family.
Throughout the book I desperately wanted to reach inside the pages and strangle the characters until they came to their senses. Except perhaps Celia. I don’t remember being too upset with her; but the rest of the lot, gosh! If only they had communicated – but I will get to that in a second. There are a lot of times when boundaries are crossed and the lines get blurred in this book. There are emotional affairs, physical affairs, and something else I can’t even explain because I’m not even sure what exactly was going on. I’m still confused by it. Honestly, I was surprised these couples agreed to tear down the first floor walls. In the first chapters, it didn’t seem like they liked each other all that much.
Some of the things about communal living seemed beneficial. Kids to play with other kids. Shared cooking and cleaning responsibilities. Someone always around to help out with something, or just simply to hang out. I think it could work with the right people. But it seems these couples just had too many issues in and among the group to make it work.
I think the character development fell flat. I hardly knew anything about them or how they came to be married to their spouse. In order to have been more invested in the characters, I needed to know more about them. Maybe the authors felt there wasn’t enough space to include this, because there are 7 main characters that get focused on. That’s a lot of characters to keep straight. Admittedly, I wrote down the couples’ names and who their spouse was in order to keep it all straight. Anyways, it was lacking.
This book did teach me an awful lot about marriage. It made it clear that open honest conversation (and lots of it!) is extremely important for a healthy, happy, satisfied marriage. If these couples had stopped to communicate honestly with their significant other, and listened to their partner, they all could have saved themselves a lot of stress and heartache.
“This was what their life was like now. Entire days and nights passed without their even knowing what had filled the other’s time.”
The ending left me with so many questions and so many things unresolved. I’ll just have to make my own conclusions as to what I think happened. I just wish there had been more closure.
*There are some sexually descriptive scenes.
I received an eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.