By: David Rogers Jr.
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: December 1, 2022
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: October 31, 2022
It’s just another day for Doug when he gets the lay-off notice at his job. After all, it’s the fourth time it’s happened in recent memory, so there’s no need to panic. Doug plans on going home and living off his savings for a bit before beginning the search for a new job. But fate has other plans, as Doug’s house becomes a sanctuary for others in similar predicaments.
After receiving his lay-off letter, Doug packs up what little he has in his cubicle and heads to his car. He wasn’t the only one to get the termination, and he notes others lingering in the parking lot, looking worried and uncertain. But Doug has some savings, and a large Victorian brownstone to return too. True, the house is somewhat run-down, but it is functional and comfortable. Doug quickly settles into a lazy daily routine that he plans on maintaining for a while.
Two weeks into his “vacation,” Doug’s phone rings. The caller, Tyler, is a guy from work that Doug barely remembers. Tyler tells Doug that he’s going to stop by, basically inviting himself to visit. But that’s not all – when Tyler arrives, he comes right out and lets Doug know he needs a place to stay. Apparently, Tyler was also laid off and his roommates didn’t like an unemployed guy living in the apartment. Before Doug realizes what is happening, he has a roommate.
The brownstone has lots of empty rooms and Tyler spends most of his time playing online games with an online community that keeps him busy and out of Doug’s way. Things settle down, again, until, several weeks later, Tyler brings Polly to the house. Another victim of the same company’s lay-offs, Polly worked in Human Resources and was given the same notice as the others. The irony wasn’t lost on Doug.
After Polly settles into the large brownstone, the new roommates work on bringing the house back to life, and each contributes to the household either through cooking or fixing things up. Tyler, however, isn’t finished inviting people into Doug’s house and soon a homeless family, led by Malcolm and his wife Rosalinda, along with their two children, are moving into the “lay-off house.” Things are about to get interesting...
The Lay-Off House is one of those novels that seems like a simple read as you open the book, but then gets “deep” as you get into the story. The author has done an excellent job of building credible, and very interesting, characters who all draw the readers in. Doug, the owner of the house, completely content to have several months of “quite” before beginning his job hunt, has his life overturned by all the visitors. Tyler, the easy-going dude who believes the more the merrier, drives along the story and Polly, a young woman from a wealthy family, is at first met with disdain but soon proves there is a lot more to her than her parents’ money. When you add in Malcolm and his family, things get very interesting and you find yourself rooting for each person, even if their objectives differ. Readers will notice that as the house comes to life, so too do those who live there. I wholeheartedly recommend The Lay-Off House for anyone who loves a good story that makes you think.
Quill says: While from the outside, The Lay-Off House appears to be a simple story of life in a big house, it really is about relationships and how people who have been thrown away by society get along and move on. It really does linger with the reader well after the last page is read.