Thursday, March 7, 2013

Book Review - A Place for Us


A Place for Us

By: Liza Gyllenhaal
Publisher: NAL Trade
Publication Date: March 2013
ISBN: 978-0451239235
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: March 8, 2013

Brook Bostock has a pretty nice life. She has an adoring husband, two great kids, a successful business, and coming from a life of privilege, no financial worries. The family has moved from the hustle and bustle of New York City to a small town in the Berkshires of Massachusetts and everything looks good. That all changes, however, when three boys, one girl, and a lot of alcohol come together in their home.

Brook and her husband Michael go out overnight, the same night that her son Liam is coming home from boarding school. He is being dropped off by his friend Carey and Carey’s older brother Brandon. At home awaiting her big brother’s arrival is Tilly and her babysitter, Phoebe. Phoebe and the Bostocks go way back, with Phoebe being considered a member of the family. The teen babysitter also has a bit of a crush on Liam. When Liam comes home drunk, he doesn’t do much more than fall asleep. Unfortunately, Brandon has other ideas and gets very rough with Phoebe. Brandon had been encouraged, in part, by Liam who lied to him and said Phoebe was “easy.” Liam thought this would impress this popular boy, whom he desperately wanted to impress, but instead it backfired when Brandon attacked Phoebe. The girl manages to escape, but the next day all hell breaks out when her father sees the bruises on her body.

When Phoebe's father confronts her, she claims, in retaliation for the lie Liam told, that it was Liam who attacked her. Liam goes along with the lie and the two teens continue to lie while a flock of lawyers start to circle, smelling blood and lots of money. With a “Social Host Liability” law in Massachusetts that imposes a liability on hosts as a result of alcohol being served to minors, whether or not the adults are present/aware of the alcohol, the well-to-do Bostocks are set to lose a lot of money, friends, and perhaps, their marriage.

It doesn't take long to get involved with the story of the Bostock’s, their confused, lost son and a very hurt young woman. It is also easy to get angry with both Liam and Phoebe, wondering if they’d ever tell the truth. As the story progressed, the tensions between Brook and Michael increased, and the heartache and distress that the lawsuit was causing was palatable. Told from the viewpoint of the four main characters, the text switched back and forth between speakers frequently. While that worked well, the author also chose to frequently switch between present and past, to give glimpses of each character’s past. While interesting, it did break up the flow of the story and slowed the pace. Overall, however, A Place for Us is a book that keeps the reader intrigued.

Quill says: A fast, good read that shows just how quickly life can spiral out of control.