Wednesday, January 19, 2011

'Drinking Closer to Home' by Jessica Anya Blau (TLC Book Stop)

Genre: Dysfunctional Family Saga
About (from TLC Book Tours)

There is nothing like ten days with one's family to stir up child hood memories.  When Anna, Portia, and Emery's mother, Louise, suffers a massive heart attack, the three grown children return to Santa Barbara as they wait for Louise to either recover or die. 
Anna can't stop thinking about sex with strangers, though in junior high she was terrifyingly certain that her free-loving parents had syphilis.  Portia's beach-bunny teen years feel far away as she struggles in an unfaithful husband who has left her feeling boneless and unsure.  And though Emery's greatest childhood fear was that The Law would catch up with their parents for any one of their numerous  transgressions, now his only worry is that he won't be able to create his own family, a newer, better version that will trump the chaos that ruled his childhood.

But time together also brings to the surface some painful, often heartbreaking secrets that will shake the foundations of everything the siblings know about themselves and their family- secrets that may, perhaps, change the way they view the past as well as the future.

My thoughts:
Well, this will be a short and sweet (maybe not) review...reason being...I just did not care for this book. I found the parents to be narcissistic, neglectful, and frankly, they pissed me off with their behavior. I tried to lighten up and just enjoy this read, but I couldn't. My favorite character and the one that I felt a lot of sympathy for was Emery. He was basically raised by his sisters and really just went about his life. I loved watching him grow into a responsible and loving adult. I will admit to laughing a few times throughout the story, but I guess because I work in a school and see neglect firsthand, I just couldn't accept the almost blatant disregard the parents had for their children and enjoy myself. Others absolutely LOVED this book and found it funny and readable. I found it funny at times, but a painful funny. With all of that being said, I respect the work that the author put into her story and just because it wasn't my cup of tea doesn't mean that you wouldn't enjoy it! 

Rating: 2.75/5

** Please do yourself a favor and visit the other blogs that are hosting this book. I'm sure you will find many different responses to Drinking Closer to Home.

Jessica’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS

Tuesday, January 18th: Teresa’s Reading Corner 
Thursday, January 20th: Scraps of Life
Monday, January 24th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Tuesday, January 25th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, January 26th: Chefdruck Musings
Thursday, January 27th: Book Club Classics!
Tuesday, February 1st: Rundpinne
Wednesday, February 2nd: Write Meg
Thursday, February 3rd: After ‘I Do’
Wednesday, February 9th: Clever Girl Goes Blog
Thursday, February 10th: Alison’s Book Marks
About Jessica Anya Blau

Jessica Anya Blau is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, where she received her Masters in fiction. Currently, she is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Goucher College in Maryland. She has been awarded scholarships from Bread Loaf and The Sewanee Writer’s Conference, and fellowships from Johns Hopkins University and Sewanee. Her stories have won numerous awards and have appeared in notable magazines and anthologies, as well as the textbook The Prose Reader, Essays for Thinking. Jessica’s first novel, The Summer of Naked Swim Parties, was selected as a Best Summer Reading Book by the Today Show, the New York Post and New York MagazineThe San Francisco Chronicle, along with other major newspapers, chose The Summer of Naked Swim Parties as a Best Book of 2008.
Find out more about Jessica at her website, and follow her on Facebook!

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for sending me an uncorrected ARC review copy. I was not compensated for my review. 
My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist.They are my personal reflections based solely on MY experience while reading this novel.
Source: TLC Book Tour 

Author: Jessica Anya Blau
Published: January 18, 2011

Publisher:  Harper Perennial
Pages: 368
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

© 2010, Staci of Life in the Thumb. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than, Life in the Thumb or Staci's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. Unfortunately, there seems to be an over abundance of parents who are narcissistic, and neglectful who have no business raising children. The damage they do is heartbreaking on a daily basis.
    Not sure I would feel any different reading about parents like this. As always I can count on your honest opinion.

  2. I tend to like stories like this for some reason. Great review Staci

  3. That's a sounded promising... thanks for the honest review Staci! :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

  4. Um, "Anna can't stop thinking about sex with strangers"? eueueueueu

  5. I haven't read this one but it sounds sort of like The Glass Castle with the negelect and all.

    Think of it this way... John Irving said in an interview that good fiction should make you a bit uncomfortable.

    Maybe you didn't like this one, but are you still thinking about it? I find that some books produce such a visceral reaction in me that they are hard to ignore, even if I didn't like them much.

  6. I'm sorry this one wasn't your cup of tea, but thanks for giving it a shot!

  7. It is a hard thing to see and read about when parents neglect their duty. Good for you for saying what you felt.

    How was your vacation??

  8. Great honest review!
    As for my thoughts, ohhh very much leaning towards "it sure doesn't sound like a book for me"

  9. Ti hit the nail on the head. It was very much like The Glass Castle for me, and I did have a similar reaction to it. But, I am STILL thinking about this story a couple of weeks after finishing it.

  10. Honest and heartfelt discussion about this topic is a good thing and I'm glad you brought it up. As always, I value your opinion.

  11. Sorry to hear you didn't like this book, Staci. It doesn't sound like my kind of read either. Thanks for an honest review.

  12. I appreciate the honest review. I can understand, given what you see on a daily basis, how you weren't able to read it for pure entertainment.

  13. Sometimes there are just things you can't get past. Mine is the killing of cats.

  14. I just read a book where the parents ruined it for me. And given your job I can see you being a bit more sensitive about it.

  15. While I like reading about dysfunctional families, this one may hit too close to home for me as well as I see too much of it as a church secretary.

  16. Thanks for sharing your honest opinion on this one. I have a hard time with books like this myself but it is because I just get so angry with the parents. Not sure if I'll end up trying this one or not.

  17. It's possible that I would like it anyway, since my thirty-year career was filled with these kinds of parents!

    Most of my colleagues stay away from books like these, but I'm inexplicably drawn to them...

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  18. Staci,

    We had very similar reactions to the book and also liked the brother or sympathised with him the most. It was a very well written book, it simply was not for me. I believe one will either really like this book or not. It would make an interesting discussion group read I think.

  19. I tend to 'like' dysfunctional family stories but it doesnt stop me wanting to wring some characters' necks lol. Not sure about this one but thanks for your honest review Staci!

  20. Well at least you tried it Staci. Sorry it wasn't your thing :(

  21. I agree: definitely a painful funny! Funny in a trainwreck sort of way. I finished this one over the weekend and enjoyed parts of it, but also found Louise and Buzzy's behavior beyond disturbing. Definitely not an easy read.


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