Living in Glass Houses: A Review

Hi friends!

Well, despite all the detours and sudden roadblocks, we did it! We moved into our house yesterday, after closing and packing all day Friday, with the help of some wonderful, servant-hearted friends. It's been a crazy couple of weeks, and it's not over yet, but somehow coming home to our  own house makes everything else pale a little bit in comparison. Still, I wouldn't mind some prayers in the meantime while I finish my research paper and prepare for the Atlanta Writer's Conference next weekend :).

Anyway, on to more important things! Today, I have the great pleasure of posting my review for Zoe McKnight's debut novel Living in Glass Houses. I read the book back in July, and when I finished I thought, "Now I have to wait three months before I can write about it?!" I wanted to post my review right then! But before I start rambling, here's a bit more about Living in Glass Houses:

Living in Glass Houses: A Summary

Living in Glass Houses is a contemporary story about three friends, all at a crossroads after discovering that even the best laid plans don’t always result in the life you want. It’s about navigating the murky waters of relationships and friendships and having the courage to make those hard, life-altering decisions which mark the difference between existing and living.

Jonathan is a do-gooding college basketball coach in a relationship with a woman whose Park Avenue upbringing is at constant odds with his Main Street way of life. It’s a life he’s conceded to accept until he meets a woman who awakens in him everything he's been missing and is now uncertain he can live without.
Elle is a NYC editor whose type-A personality has afforded her a fulfilling lifestyle in which she rarely doesn’t get what she wants. That’s until a failed relationship causes her walls to come crashing down around her. The man, who everyone agreed was her perfect other half, leaves her confused, insecure and incapable of moving on, even after she meets someone who’s nothing like her, but who completes her in the strangest of ways.

Blair is an optimistic good girl, turned jaded wife. After ten years of a disappointing marriage, she decides to reclaim her happiness and fill the void left by her wealthy, philandering husband. Just when everything she’s ever dreamed of is finally within her grasp, she’s haunted by her past, forcing her to make a decision which will forever change the path of her life.

Living in Glass Houses: What I Think

Simply put, this is a great book. Each story tells us a little bit more about the complications of being in love, and in Glass Houses, we are able to share in the frustrations, the joys, the excitement, and even the fear of allowing people into our hearts and into our lives. We experience the pain of infidelity and the optimism of seeing a future with that special person...and what I love most about McKnight's story is that nothing is black and white and, best of all, nothing turns out quite like we expect. 

Each character is complex and flawed, which makes me like them even when I hate them. Even Vaughn, the compulsive liar and perpetual womanizer, is more than just the sum of those two parts. He has built a life, however unstable, and he will do anything it takes to maintain the facade of perfection, even while he refuses to give up the indiscretions that would make it collapse. He makes me love the other characters that much more, and root for them, because, through McKnight's impeccable storytelling, I see the depths of his insecurity. I want him to understand the choices he's made, and I want to see Blair happy, despite the fact that she is not as innocent as she appears (another reason why I'm so happy McKnight has a sequel coming out soon!). 

I have only one complaint, and it is small in comparison to the rest of this wonderful novel. The fact that Luke's father, a Georgian, was cast as racist made me sigh heavily and put the book down to go get some coffee. I was frustrated. I am from the South and while it is in no way cured of its terrible past or the prejudice that has been passed down from generation to generation (by both black and whites), I felt that typecasting the wealthy white man as racist did a disservice to this incredibly diverse city and to its history. Atlanta is actually one of the few places in the South that stood apart during the Civil Rights era as progressive and even earned the moniker as the city "too busy to hate". Racism does still exist and to deny that is to pretend that people are neither human nor inherently flawed. McKnight has done an incredible job of portraying these exact elements of humanity in her story, but I would have liked to see that part of the story exist somewhere else. Otherwise, Living in Glass Houses has the potential to perpetuate the assumptions often made about the South, and that is a shame.

Overall, this is a fantastic novel and I can't wait to read the sequel. McKnight is a gifted writer and she completely left me hanging at the end. Be sure to stop by her official website to learn more about Living in Glass Houses or visit Amazon to pick up your own copy!


Samantha said...

Congrats on your move, and thanks for reviewing the book :)

C.Curley said...

So glad to hear you are in your house! :)

Optimistic Existentialist said...

This really sounds like an interresting read!!

Zoe said...

Thanks for the great review Wendi!!