The Great Gatsby + The Family Across the Street

Well, “Old Sport,” it’s time for another couple book reviews. I’d suggest grabbing some of those fancy ice cubes and pouring something tasty in a tumbler and sit down for a read.

I had not read The Great Gatsby since high school, so over 30 years (yikes, where did that time go?) Honestly, I could barely remember a thing about it other than there was some unique rich guy in it. The writing style takes a bit to fall into but soon you are transported back to the 1920’s era. Having recently watched Dowton Abbey and its America version counterpart on HBO (the name escapes me at the moment) helps set the imagery for the timeline of the story. My picture now of the 20’s consists largely of people sitting around drinking and talking. And trying to get invited to elite parties or talking about who attended which party.

At its heart, The Great Gatsby is a quiet love story about a chance missed and the hope of getting another opportunity. It’s a quick and light read about a time gone by.

Also, I’m combining this review with one more: The Family Across the Street by Nicole Trope. A friend offered me a collection of his books to choose from, and the title of this one jumped out at me. There was a Netfilx show this year with some super long title like “The woman across the street in the window who drinks” or something close to that. Karen and I always cracked up when we saw the main actress Kristen Bell (normally known as Princess Anna in our house) pour a huge glass of wine. Having parented during the pandemic and remote learning we could totally relate to her pouring style. Unfortunately, this book “The Family Across The Street” had nothing to do with the show. There’s going to be some minor spoilers ahead so if you might read this book, I would stop reading now.

Cutting back – I’ll just have one glass of wine…

Okay, still here? Spoilers ahead, last warning.

The Family Across the Street is part mystery and part thriller. The book involves just a small amount of characters that live on an average street in your typical small town. The book opens with a delivery driver trying to deliver a package to a house (the aforementioned “house across the street”). The woman will not open the door to talk or sign the package and the driver tells her he will have to drop it at the post office then. Some more odd conversation occurs between the two, and the driver leaves with the package. Meanwhile the nosy neighbor across the street has been observing the odd stuff going on at the house all morning. The delivery driver and the neighbor sense something is off and the story spends quite a bit of time deciding whether they should do something or not. Inside the house, we soon find that the woman and her twin 5 year old children are being held hostage by a family member. This is where the book turns dark and honestly I didn’t care for it, but some reason I kept going. It has a “twist” at the end that is tries to give the reader an “OMG” moment but for me it fell flat. It just was trying to do a twist for the sake of twist that barely fits logic with the overall story.

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