Alabaster Houses

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fThirty-six year old Jane Pepper has lived a charmed life: she stumbled effortlessly into jobs, loves, family. Now the only thing she wants is a bone marrow donor for her teenage daughter, Amy. And for once, it looks like Jane might not get what she wants. During her desperate search, she meets Riva Hakim, a photographer who has never achieved anything easily. She has spent her life as an outsider, buffered from the world by her camera lens. Initially, only one slender thread joins their lives: the man who is Amy’s father and Riva’s husband. But the unlikely pair becomes friends. First, working together on a work project and, eventually, entrusting each other with the secrets they’ve hidden from the rest of the world.

Alabaster Houses is a book of secrets alternating excerpts of Riva’s memoirs, Jane’s memories, and present-day scenes between the two women. The women in this book reveal their deepest secrets so reluctantly; even after you think you’ve figured it all out, there are still more secrets hidden. Amy’s brief journal – which has such an authentic teenage voice – is a heartbreaking way for Jane to face family secrets that she either didn’t know or couldn’t face.

This could easily have become a predictable “two wronged women forge friendship” plot. This story is much richer; the man that brought them together remaining a minor detail. Instead Alabaster Houses focuses on the strengths women draw from each other, the complex choices we make every day about what to reveal and what to hide, and every person’s journey to understand herself. Alabaster Houses offers the best of both worlds to a reader: intimacy in the memoir sections and the tension and plot offered by the traditionally written sections. The gradual revelations make it a journey of discovery that is a joy to read.


Reviewed By:

Author Lara McLaughlin
Star Count 4/5
Format Mass
Page Count 346 pages
Publisher Wye Knot
Publish Date 27-Oct-2011
ISBN 9781456354626
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue March 2012
Category Popular Fiction
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