Well, it’s Monday, again. I spent the weekend thinking I would have abundant reading time, but family and kids got in the way. If you’ve ever been to a large-ish swim meet you know that it seems like you will have plenty of time to read (or knit, or play solitaire, or answer e-mails, or write a blog . . .) but then the fact that you’re there with children hits you in the face. My nine-year old loves to swim and loves the meets, but gets sidetracked while sitting in camp with her friends. Momma has to make sure she gets to her events, or the purpose of the meet is lost. And at this meet there was the added distraction of her little sister, who usually gets to go to the babysitter’s house. She doesn’t sit still very well and wants to visit with EVERYONE. And momma has to make sure she’s not talking to strangers and not bugging the kids (she is a little sister after all).
“Pushing a pair of earbuds into his ears, he let Bob Marley assure him that every little thing was going to be all right. Singing along beneath his breath, he trudged down the hall toward the bathroom. He’d used it the evening before but had kept his eyes half-closed, partly out of exhaustion, but mostly because he didn’t want to see just how bad it was. But now, with the morning’s light trickling through the window above the bathtub, the filth was undeniable—so staggering that even Bob couldn’t sing his way around it.”
The cover and the marketing for this book really got me. A seemingly perfect neighborhood with a creepy house? Yes please! And perfect neighbors who have a secret? Again, yes!!!
Andrew, or Drew, or Andy Morrison is a good boy getting away from a horrible situation. He basically gave up his life to look after his agoraphobic, alcoholic mother after his father took off with what he remembers to be another woman. When he sees his mother walking down the street with a sack full of booze, Drew has had enough.
His childhood friend found him through good old Facebook, and Mickey has offered him a room in his house at a VERY reduced price. Drew knows this is the chance he needs. As he drives through the neighborhood he is thrilled with the picture perfect neighborhood, until he realizes Mickey’s is the only creepy, dilapidated house on the block. Once inside, his disappointment grows but optimistically jumps right in, trying to clean the filth, hoping that his own life can be cleaned up as well. Meanwhile, Mickey sits on the couch, gaming his life away, watching his old friend Drew from the corner of his eye. Through his dreams, hopes and cleaning, Drew can’t keep his eyes off of the perfect house next door. And the lady of the house seems very neighborly, baking him cookies. Giving him a job. Drew’s absolute dream. And the neighbor lady is SEXY!
This is where it falls apart. Every creepy scenario shows its head. Ania Ahlborn does okay, but she feels the need to include everything. Murder, mayhem, mind-control. Sex, drugs, rock and roll. The only thing missing is the mystery. You pretty much know what is going to happen as soon as Mickey starts to stir from the couch and Drew’s mom apologizes and promises to clean up her act.
I’m not giving up on Ahlborn and I will read more from her. I think she has great potential. She writes well and creates compelling characters. With a couple of tweaks Drew could have been a great character, he just needed a little more depth. Harlowe (the sexy neighbor) also was wonderful, but I think a little more mystery with her would have been nice. The conflict within Drew concerning Harlowe could have been great psychologically; the fact that he’s sexually attracted to her but he also sees her as a mother figure, and this all happens after his conflict with his mother.
I will be cheering on Ahlborn. I think she can be a force in the future.