My third Waxman book — I love her combination of humor, reflection, and relatable characters. She reminds me of Anne Lamott (in her earlier, less spiritual days). Other People’s Houses focuses on a Los Angeles neighborhood — a block really — with a set of families and children brought together through proximity and friendship. Frances has become the group “designated driver” with everyone agreeing that it just makes more sense for Frances to drive the 7 kids to the various schools every morning and home in the afternoon. One fateful day when a neighbor’s child is delivered to school sans the essential toilet paper roll required for the day’s craft project, Frances drops by the house to pick it up and sees … something she really, really, wishes she hadn’t seen.
An exploration of different lifestyles brought together by the social glue of gossip, the writing is good, the characters engaging, and the dialog and reflections do a good job of presenting different viewpoints (although I can’t help feel that the author’s own viewpoint is heavily represented by Frances, and I don’t totally agree with it but… fun to think about.
I also liked the neologism (to me) of youthsplaining as in “Frances hated it when neonates lectured her about things she already understood — Youthsplaining.”
A few more fun quotes:
“The dogs followed her, wondering if this morning they would get fed in the bathroom; it paid to keep an open mind.”
“You might think that cotillion, which is basically a class where kids learn to be overly polite, to use the right fork, and where boys learn to open doors for girls, is a trivial offering, but you would be wrong. It is a fulcrum of dispute between parenting paradigms, at least in Los Angeles.”
“She pulled on the same pair of jeans she’d had on the day before and the hooded sweatshirt she found under them. Look, if they hadn’t wanted to be worn a second day they could have run away, but instead they just lay there overnight, asking for it.”