From Publishers Weekly
A classic money pit scenario offers insights into the fragility of home, family and neighborhood in Pushcart Prize–winner Laken's thoughtful debut. Kate and her husband, Stuart, have been living a student lifestyle—complete with all-night parties and a rundown apartment—since leaving college seven years before. When Kates parents help them buy their own home, they dont know that the handyman special was the site of a murder nearly 20 years earlier. Nor do they expect that the fixer-upper will be the wedge that drives them further apart. When Stuart walks away from their gutted home in the middle of Kates ambitious remodeling, Kate forms new relationships with two men who have ties to the murder and the house. At times, the metaphoric potential in Kate and Stuart's cursed home overshadows the storytelling. For the most part, however, Laken avoids foundering in obvious symbolism, instead offering compelling reflections on broad issues such as neighborhood gentrification and the American dream as well as the personal struggles involved with marriage, family and the creation of a home. (Feb.)
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On many levels, critics praised Dream House
, a domestic drama inspired by Laken's own experience buying and renovating a home in which a murder had occurred. No ordinary ghost story, it offers insight into the troubled human psyche and a deep inquiry into the meaning of home through multiple storylines. Lessons about materialism, self, sacrifices, class, race, and values also emerge. Reviewers agreed that the prologue is a short masterpiece and that the novel as a whole is an excellent portrait of "the stereotypes that distinguish posh Ann Arbor, backwoods Dexter, and Ypsilanti" (Detroit Metro Times
). The only complaint came from Entertainment Weekly
, which found fault with the main characters. Otherwise, Laken is a writer to watch.Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC