03 July 2011

Review: The Last Great American Housewife by Staci Greason

Disclaimer: Ms. Greason was kind enough to offer me a review copy of this novel. I am not being reimbursed for the review other than by receiving this free copy.

I started reading the book right after I got the copy and then something came up and, typically for me, I forgot all about it and the deadline I had given myself (and Ms. Greason) to finish it. Anyway, I finally did finish it.The book is published as an e-book only (to begin with).

Kate Miller is a stay-at-home mom and housewife with two kids and a husband who takes her for granted. When her mother dies, Kate‘s seemingly perfect life begins to unravel. Her first effort at breaking out of the monotony ends in disaster, but leads her to meet a mother and son who, although she at first thinks they are both weird and crazy, become her friends. The indirect result of this friendship is that Kate leaves her husband, and the direct one that instead of going to a hotel to stay while she figures out her next move she ends up tree-sitting in order to save a ponderosa pine tree from being chopped down to ease the construction of a parking garage. She has never really taken a good, close look at her own life, always having been too busy being the perfect housewife, but sitting on a platform 40 feet (about 12 meters) above the ground in increasingly nasty weather gives her a time to evaluate her life and examine her priorities and come to understand herself and grow as a person.

I didn‘t know what to expect when I began reading this book. The cover image suggested chick-lit, a genre with which I have a love-hate relationship, but the description suggested there might be more to it than that. What I found was the tale of a woman who discovers that she isn‘t really happy, just settled-in. Shaken out of her complacency by her mother‘s death, Kate discovers she is somehow unfulfilled, but can‘t quite figure out how until she meets bold and brash Ruby who makes her see the light. How she ends up a tree I will not reveal, but Greason manages to make her journey both believable and interesting, from complacent housewife with a fear of heights and no particular interest in the environmental movement to a strong, bold, self-assertive woman ready to take on a building company to save a single tree.

This is a story about self-discovery, resolutions and forgiveness. It is funny in parts but serious at heart, well-written and makes for a nice read. The characters, even the frontsman for the bad guys who at first seems to be a typical card-board cut-out villain, are (eventually) realistic and those characters who need to be fleshed-out, are. Kate is a realistically flawed but endearing protagonist who goes through a transformation and finds a new lease on life and inner peace. The story moves a bit slowly at times, especially in the middle chapters, but never gets too drawn-out. All in all, a quite satisfying read. 3+ stars.

P.S.
There are some problems with the appearance of the text, mostly to do with indents and text alignment, which I hope will be corrected in an updated edition.

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