In the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights lives the Richardson family: the father, Bill, is a lawyer, the mother, Elena, is a journalist, and their four children, Lexie, lively and carefree, Trip, focused on sport and girls, Moody, lonely and a bit nerdy, and Izzy, troubled and nobody in her family seems to understand her. Their normal and peaceful life is disrupted by the arrival of Mia and Pearl Warren. Mia is an artist and, along with her fifteen-year-old daughter Pearl, she has been travelling around the States until she has finally decided to settle in Shaker Heights, hoping to give a better life to her daughter. Moody and his family quickly become fond of Pearl and Mia, but the different upbringing and beliefs soon bring catastrophe in the quiet suburb.
This is a well-written, emotional, and captivating novel set in the 1990s, against the backdrop of the Clinton presidency, and in an utopian neighbourhood that reminded me of Desperate Housewives but without the murders. The characters are psychologically well-developed, flawed, and often selfish and I liked how the author managed to create characters that you can like and hate at the same time (I found myself switching sides throughout the entire novel). A novel about motherhood, families and relationships with a fresh and original plot and a few twists that will keep you glued to the page. (NP)