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Mswas’ CBR-III Review #10 – Model Home by Eric Puchner

02/11/2011

At one point in Eric Puchner’s Model Home, I considered putting down this family story. It was well written, but alll of the characters were just so unhappy, and full of angst that I really just thought I didn’t want to read about people like that. I have been trying to avoid messed up drama of late in my personal life, and this had a familiar ring to it.

Take the father, Warren, who uprooted the entire family and brought them to California so that he could invest in a real estate development, a gated community on a site next to a toxic waste dump.

Larry was right: it wasn’t their fault the county had decided to dump sludge near their property. Why should Warren and his family suffer? It was wrong to lie to people, in a fair and rightous world– but this ws not a fair and righteous world. It was a  world where you could work for twenty years to give your children something, a life you never had, and then see it whisked away by some fucking ureacrats living off your tax dollars.

Warren stared at the twinkling Latino family pictured in the brochure. Desperate straits required desperate measures. He would do whatever he could–lie, swindle, bust his ass–to save his family. He pulled the Yellow Pages from his desk and picked up the phone.

“I need your credit card,” he said.

“What are you doing?”Larry asked.

“Ordering some business cards.” Warren untacked the brochure from the bulletin board and flipped it over so the faces weren’t visible.

Thankfully, though, Warren still has his humanity and is not cut out to be a real estate tycoon.  Instead, he’s eaten up by guilt. The other family members have their own worries and drama. Camille, his wife, has it pretty good but still is unsure if she should be happy or not. The oldest boy, Dustin, is falling in love with his girlfriend’s sister. The younger boy, Jonas has fixations and is practically OCD. Daughter, Lyle, hooks up with a young, Mexican security guard at the development, Hector.

I was getting tired of the story and the characters, but I kept with the story just a bit longer and then, tragedy ensued. I  won’t detail what the tragedy was, but  it made me stay with the story and ride it through till the end. This event had an impact on everyone the original group of characters and made their relationships with each other all change.

I will tell you that no one dies – which, in a book about a family with children, is good to know. Puchner’s writing is very vivid, and I guess I did get sucked in by all that drama which is what made me want to put it down originally. The characters do grow and evolve, though, so I can say that I do recommend this book, and I’d be interested to know your thoughts on it.

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