Book #37 was The Heights by Peter Hedges. The back of the book reads:
Tim Welch is a popular history teacher at the Montague Academy, an exclusive private school in Brooklyn Heights. As he says, "I was an odd-looking, gawky kid but I like to think my rocky start forced me to develop empathy, kindness, and a tendency to be enthusiastic. All of this, I’m now convinced, helped in my quest to be worthy of Kate Oliver." Now, Kate is not inherently ordinary. But she aspires to be. She stays home with their two young sons in a modest apartment trying desperately to become the parent she never had. They are seemingly the last middle-class family in the Heights, whose world is turned upside down by Anna Brody, the new neighbor who moves into the most expensive brownstone in Brooklyn, sending the local society into a tailspin.
Anna is not only beautiful and wealthy; she’s also mysterious. And for reasons Kate doesn’t quite understand, even as all the Range Rover- driving moms jockey for invitations into Anna’s circle, Anna sets her sights on Kate and Tim and brings them into her world.
Like Tom Perrotta, Peter Hedges has a keen eye for the surprising truths of daily life. The Heights is at once light of touch and packed with emotion and depth of character.
I liked this more than I expected to. For some reason, I had been putting off reading it, afraid that it was going to come off as pretentious. Thankfully, I was wrong. It wasn’t pretentious, but it was one of those novels that didn’t really go far.
I was able to connect much more with Tim than with Kate. Tim is a bumbling young father who is somewhat misguided, and more than a little confused about what he wants out of life. Kate was much more dry, and frankly, uninteresting. It’s telling that, several weeks after I’ve finished the book, I can’t remember anything about her character other than she went from being a stay-at-home mom to the sole breadwinner.
Anna Brody could have been an interesting character, but she’s a little too mysterious. I have no idea what she may have seen in Tim, other than that he was there. I think the story would have benefited from some further exploration of that situation.
The book has been compared to Tom Perrotta, but it lacks some of Perrotta’s depth. Overall, I’m not sorry I read it, but it’s not a story that’s going to stick with me.
This book was a review copy.
Page count: 304 (’11 total: 9,609) | Approximate word count: 91,200 (’11 total: 3,617,650)
2010: In Ecstasy (Kate McCaffrey)
2009: Whiskey Sour (J.A. Konrath)
2008: Club Dead (Charlaine Harris)
2007: The Survivors (Dinah McCall)
2006: Goodnight Nobody (Jennifer Weiner)
2005: Circus of the Damned (Laurell K. Hamilton)