"Second House From the Corner" by Sadeqa Johnson
nnnnnTITLE: Second House From the Corner
AUTHOR: Sadeqa Johnson
PUBLISHER: Thomas Dunne Books
PUBLISHED DATE: February 9, 2016
Ok...I don't even know how to start. Let me start by pouring a glass for the moms...
...because this book right here, is for every mom who's wanted to jump in the car and head for the hills, but doesn't because you love your kids, even after they've screamed your name at the highest octave humanly possible for the 113th time since breakfast. Felicia perfectly articulates your anger.
Felicia is a married mother of 3, who's fairy tale of being a doting stay-at-home-mom in suburban NJ falls flat in the daily reality of feeling trapped at the monotony of her life. While her husband works late, does little to help around the house, and with the realization that her acting career is over before it ever began, Felicia finds the mounting disappointment suffocating. One day she gets a call from an old flame. Against her better judgment, she talks to the man. This decision will create a domino effect that will challenge the foundation of Felicia's life as she knows it and shake her world to the core causing her a trek to her hometown of Philadelphia that triggers memories of a lost childhood.
Told in the first person narrative, Felicia's voice is strong and compelling. I listened to the audiobook narrated by the incomparable Robin Miles, and I was hooked from the first word onward.
This book is literary for sure, but it remains down-to-earth, contemporary, and explores aspects of motherhood most of us don't want to admit to. Johnson's way of describing, even the most mundane facets of everyday life leap into beautiful prose. I was so sure I knew what would happen, but the surprises were subtle, and not as predictable as I'd thought. Each page was a pleasant revelation.
Ok...now this book did such an excellent job of describing Philly....OMG!!!! I'm a Philly native, the bulk of my entire family is rooted there. I went home with this book. From cherry Italian Ices and salty pretzels - to street names, even to the county I live in in New Jersey...I was completely engrossed. I felt like I was unpacking my family members and re-visiting the places of my childhood. The nostalgia was REAL!
Please...see above!!! This book was so accurate in so many things for me! I sent copies of this book to some of my family members to see if they came away with the same feelings I did! I feel like doing a genealogy or a DNA test to see if me and Ms. Johnson are related!!! Even down to the names...some of the characters in this book are IN MY OWN FAMILY! It was eerie reading it.
Felicia is so flawed, and I loved her so much. She's not trying to be likable, or perfect, she is just real, and owns herself good bad or indifferent. I really appreciated that. She's a good mother, but she gets tired, and feels unappreciated sometimes. she wants to feel beautiful and be admired. She's no saint, and not trying to be. Her husband Preston...ugh... He's a good guy...for all of his mysogeny...I didn't care for Preston, but again, I don't think that was the point. Gram....OMG!!! Gram is my own Grandmother. I'll just leave that at that. Martin.....EWWWWWW!!!!!! I don't want to even talk too much about Martin. He was disgusting to me. What she was ever attracted to in him, I don't know....but he was what he was. Some of the characters fell kind of flat to me, but clearly the strongest most complex character was Felicia. The others were literally extras in her book. I'd have like to have seen the other characters as developed as her, but overall they gave enough to carry the story.
Family. Home. Accepting yourself and your flaws. The effects of misrepresenting yourself. How we all take our pasts with us. Not knowing what you've got until it's gone... There are also some theme of sexual abuse that Felicia undergoes as a child, and it pissed me off that the perpetrator is never brought to justice. In fact...he doubles down in using Felicia.
I like the cover. A black woman looking out of a window. Audible recommended this book to me, among others...and though it's not the best book cover I've ever seen - it definitely gave me the impression that the writing was of a higher literary quality than the others...looks like I was right.
This book does go back in time as well as happen in the present time. I found the transitions done well, and didn't have a hard time being able to follow the story or catch what was happening. Story construction was done well, with enough plot twists to make this slow simmering story sizzle.
Recommendation: Read it!!!!!!
Audience: Millennials and Beyond
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