Housebreaking | Author: Dan Pope | Rating: 8/11
The second novel by award-winning author Dan Pope, Housebreaking is a masterfully crafted portrait of modern suburban life, American Beauty-esque in the way that it reveals the layers upon layers of dysfunction that go on behind closed doors of your everyday community.
When Benjamin Mandelbaum finds himself living with his elderly father as his marriage crumbles under the strain of past infidelities, he assumes a bachelor’s life will be awaiting him. Instead, he dives headfirst into a torrid affair with Audrey Martin-Murray, a married woman from his past, while assuming caregiving responsibilities for his ailing father, Leonard.
Audrey has recently returned to the town where she grew up with a husband and reluctant teenage daughter in tow. Although they move into a house made for the ideal family, they are anything but. Her husband, Andrew, throws himself into his work as a partner at a law firm, forming questionable relationships with co-workers along the way. Audrey may have arrived in town in an attempt to escape a tragic event in her past, but she may be walking straight into tragedy again while Emily (their teenager daughter) finds herself embroiled in a scandal of her own. One that threatens to tear their family apart once and for all.
Housebreaking follows the lives of the Martin-Murray family as it starts to come unwound, and the Mandelbaum clan as they attempt to find their way back together. Pope dramatically courses the frailties and fractures that relationships suffer when due to desire, impulse and even neglect. With almost nothing as it seems behind the closed doors on Apple Hill Road, Housebreaking reminds us that there is more to our neighbors than what meets the eye. Reminiscent of the slightly cynical fiction of Tom Perotta, the type that lets on that you might not get your happy ending, Housebreaking will have you enrapt to the very last page.