A girl, a guy, a broken-down house. Not exactly on-again, off-again, Malcolm and Joanna are in-again, out-again: in love, out of each other’s arms, in an awkward co-living arrangement, out of the country. Their unconventional relationship is the only way, Joanna says, to protect herself from the specter of commitment, which inevitably leads to heartbreak.
When Harry Met Sally for the Millennial generation, set in the damp and drizzly neighborhoods of Portland, Oregon, Broken Homes and Gardens is an ode to friendship, lust, and the unrelenting pull of love.
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Review by Marlene Engel
The connection that Joanna and Malcolm have from the second that they meet at a party is obvious. But when he leaves for a couple years to go off to the Peace Corps, they agree to date other people. When Malcolm returns home, Joanna has moved on, but her heart can never fully break away from Malcolm’s.
Coming from a broken home, Joanna fears getting too close to someone. The thought of potentially having to deal with divorce again is a pain she never wants to relive. So, in her mind, it’s easier to just date and not fully commit.
Malcolm doesn’t want to get tied down to one person. But when he finds himself in love, even when that’s the last thing he wants to be in, they tend to suppress their true feelings. They may feel that by hiding how they really feel that they’re preventing heartache, but it ends up causing more problems than they thought.
What I love about this book is that the characters are perfectly flawed. Both in their twenties, they want to be in relationships but don’t seem to have the proper tools to get there. Full of funny, and at times cringe worthy moments, the author takes us on their romantic journey that for every step forward, there are two steps back.
About the Author:
Rebecca Kelley grew up in Carson City, Nevada, wandered for a few years, and eventually landed in Portland, where she teaches writing at Oregon College of Art and Craft. She is the co-author of The Eco-nomical Baby Guide. Broken Homes & Gardens is her first novel.
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