In the Dream House Rothdas book review RSS
2.0 Stars

The beatings will continue until the writing improves

An uneven book that has occasional excellent chapters. The conceit of the book is that each of its ~200 chapters is told in a different style, as the narrator (Maria) outlines her relationship with an attractive but emotionally abusive girlfriend. The book has been in the news recently, since a local school board had complaints about a few of the sex scenes, leading to the book being removed from the high school reading list. This is a shame, since A) there are only a few prurient chapters, and it would be the easiest thing in the world to just excise that 2% of the book while leaving the artistic message basically untouched, and B) young people are really the best audience for the book, since they're the ones who need a primer on avoiding these sorts of red flags. The narrator is recounting events from her early 20's, and how an unhappy Maria let herself get too wrapped up in a more conventionally pretty and credentialed & exciting lady, which in turn led to Maria not dumping the girlfriend when she turned mean. There's plenty of other things going on in the book, thoughts about sexism, thoughts about patriarchy, thoughts about how these are translated into same sex relationships, etc. etc. It's not all bad: some of it is powerful, and some of it is intelligent. Too many of the chapters though come across as someone who has been through an MFA program and hasn't found their own voice yet, e.g. it is trying to be poetic or affecting but comes across more as trite and in a boringly familiar way. I would like to read the author 10 years from now, when she has more practice and confidence and is more involved in creating her own fiction rather than recounting things that happened to her. I would also to like to read the abusive-ex's memoir? Like maybe Maria snored when she slept or something, I feel like we might not have the complete story.