A Tale of Foster Families, Memories Lost, a Mother’s
Love, and a Woman Who Constantly Self-Destructs
Hey, guys! It’s been about a week since the last time I posted. Normally I try to post at least twice a week, but things have been hectic at work (yes, the full-time grown-up job that keeps books on my shelf and food in my fridge). Dang responsibilities getting in the way of fun stuff! Anyway, without further ado, here’s my review of HOUSE OF THISTLES by the lovely and talented miss Lanette Kauten:
All Allie wants is to forget her past and raise her teenage
daughter, but when her sister offers a room to a childhood abuser, guilt
and memories flood her mind. When her daughter gets hurt, and Allie has an
afternoon tryst with her daughter’s psychologist, she realizes her tightly
controlled world is unraveling. The only way for her to go forward is to
unlock the memories of what happened to her the day her parents died.
My Rating: 4.5
Do not start this novel thinking it’s going to be a light read. I would attach a trigger warning to it, as there are themes of sexual abuse throughout. Some parts are hard to read and will make you uncomfortable. I don’t mind because I’m not squeamish. If you are sensitive to child abuse and sexual abuse this may not be the book for you. Though I encourage everyone to read it, as the prose is beautiful and the story arc is one of redemption. It’s gritty and darkly beautiful and holds nothing back.
Allie has skipped from foster home to foster home since the age of five. Now thirty-five, she struggles to become a functional adult. You can see from the very beginning how she’s affected by the things she’s been through. She’s such an interesting character. She’s neither good nor bad. She’s human. She’s paranoid, she makes mistakes, and she’s vulnerable though she tries so hard not to be.
The relationship between Allie and Harley, her adopted daughter, as well as Allie and Steven, her boyfriend, is tangible and believable. The dialogue was great. I loved that they spoke like real people and made real people mistakes. There were a lot of times where Allie would sabotage herself, and I often wanted to smack her and say, “Allie, you’re doing this to yourself. Get it together, woman!”
I like that the story is set up like a puzzle. The characters are intriguing and damaged, and I constantly wondered, ‘Why are you the way you are?’ Lanette beautifully sets up the questions and then gives the answers, handing out one puzzle piece at a time and allowing the reader to put them together, slowly forming a picture of Allie’s terrible past.
I found that the action could go from zero to one-hundred within a paragraph, which gave me brain whiplash a time or two, but it wasn’t something that lessened my reading experience.
I only caught two typos throughout the novel: ‘w’ missing on ‘was’, and a missing quotation mark. There was some repetitiveness, i.e. a few “had had”s. Stephen and Steven were used interchangeably around the tenth chapter, but I didn’t see an issue with the two names after that.
The writing was excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed the novel. It’s a story of closure, recovery, and a woman trying to glue together pieces of a shattered childhood that led to a shattered adulthood. The ending adequately tied up the loose ends, but I did find myself wondering what happened to Gary, Josh, and Tim.
Overall, it was a very interesting read, and my first foray into women’s fiction. Lanette has made a great impression, and I will be venturing out of my YA cave to read more of this genre. I highly recommend this book!
The Query Faerie