HOUSE OF WONDER – Sarah Healy
A Perfect 10
New American Library
New Jersey – The Present
Jenna Parsons has to return to her childhood home on 62 Royal Court where her shopaholic mother Scilla and her twin brother Warren still live. Her mother's shopping problem has reached a critical stage. Scilla was Miss Texas 1972, but married Jenna's father to escape an abusive home life. She has never shared this with her children. Scilla's husband left and remarried long ago, and he ignores his son due to Warren's peculiarities. Jenna loves her twin, and once all she had to do to summon him was to rub her earlobe. As she grew up, though, she began to view him through a different, outsider prism, the same one her dad used, and wanted to escape her mother's and brother's eccentricities to find a ‘normal' life. Essentially, she had abandoned her twin and her mother, but discovers she wants to rebuild her relationship with them. She left to find a normal life but ended up an unwed mother when her significant other, Duncan, decided to leave. Her daughter Rose is now four years old and the joy of Jenna's life, but events may well threaten even that.
Warren lives in another world; he's very intelligent but with few social skills, speaking little but observing much. He has been the oddity of the neighborhood since his early childhood. He delivers pizzas for a job and continues with his passion for building and flying model airplanes on the front lawn and a local park the rest of the time. Within the neighborhood, a string of robberies worries the residents, and gossip claims Warren responsible for the thefts. Yet Rose has become captivated with her uncle, and he with her, even to using the secret ear lobe communication.
Childhood memories and her failed relationship trouble Jenna. Events lead to her re-acquaintanceship with her high school crush, Bobby Vanni. He is divorced now and doing his residency at a local hospital. His daughter Gabby and Rose become friends, and through their daughters' playtime, she and Bobby begin dating. Jenna only foresees a doomed relationship.
HOUSE & WONDER is a very satisfying and fast read filled with flawed but wonderful characters as seen through Jenna's point of view. Although close to her twin, Jenna leaves him an intricate character that readers will need to intuit. The story centers on the quirky but interesting Parsons family and the equally quirky neighborhood they live in. The readers learn that though somewhat dysfunctional, the Parsons are good, caring people. Jenna's family needs her, but in many ways, she needs them more. Bobby still attracts Jenna, but her past with Duncan and current events fill her self-doubt. Author Sarah Healy deftly interweaves the past with the present. The complexities and the mystery of that past, the robberies, and other events twine into a dramatic climax. Readers will agree this story deserves a Perfect 10.