"To Lexie, the world seemed nearly perfect, and her fantasies were her real life with all the colours dialed up."
There is a reason some books are best sellers. They are easy to read and hit a nerve with the prevailing zeitgeist. That could possibly be the most pretentious sentence I've written here in a while and that would seem inappropriate. At the centre of this novel is the question of who provides a better life, someone with money, or less opportunities due to their ethnicity, lack of finesse with English and 'otherness'. Ultimately this is a novel concerned with 'otherness' - a feeling of isolation from the picture perfect life that the tailored streets of the Shaker Heights community suggest. If you've watched the mini-series this becomes even more about race when they cast Kerry Washington as Mia.
Shaker Heights reminded me of growing up in the suburbs, where to be anything but the accepted norm was to be frowned upon. Fitting in meant wearing the right clothes, looking the same, sharing the same views, all of which seemed to be a kind of prison to me. Izzy is vexed by the fact she doesn't subscribe to her well to do family's status quo. New arrivals Mia and her daughter Pearl, go from living in a car to finding a home at the rental property owned by Elena. As their daughters shift allegiances, ambitious Pearl enthralled by Elena's lifestyle and artistic Izzy mesmerised by Mia's creativity, their lives are shaken by another struggle between two mothers.
This was chosen for our book club and it really is a great choice because there is so much thematically to discuss. While that can sometimes labour the pace of a novel, this one really hits all the marks.
5 out of 5 families are like icebergs, you only see the top.