Title: Drinking Closer to Home
Author: Jessica Anya Blau
Release Date: January 18, 2011
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Anna, Portia, and Emery have returned home after their mother, Louise, suffered a massive heart attack. They had an unusual upbringing in the most bohemian of fashions, and they recall how they got to this point. Between Anna’s addictions and recovery, Portia’s divorce, and Emery’s homosexuality and desire for a child with his partner, the children commiserate as they hold vigil at their mother’s bedside.
Drinking Closer to Home is a fascinating look at a family that is dysfunctional in the best of ways. Each of the children, Anna, Portia, and Emery, have been damaged in some way by their upbringing, and they have all striven to overcome their personal challenges. To me, Anna was the most fascinating of the three siblings. Her addictions were tragic and I so badly wanted her to find some help and come to a place of peace. The fact that most of her family (besides Emery) was so unsupportive during these struggles only made it that much more difficult for the reader.
However, at the same time, the fact that this family doesn’t really take anything seriously is one of their most endearing qualities. Even when they are horribly frustrating and the reader wants to reach through the pages to talk some sense into them, you can’t help but continue to love them. They are so dysfunctional and difficult, yet endearing at the same time. It’s a difficult balance to achieve, yet Jessica Anya Blau did it masterfully with wonderful scene setting and snappy dialogue.
The novel took me a little while to get into because its main appeal is its characters. These people are so lifelike and well written, it’s hard to believe that they only come to life within the pages of a book. But as a result, while the characters are developing, readers’ attention might wander, as mine did. All I can say is that it’s worth sticking with this book. If you do, you’ll be rewarded with a wonderful story, memorable characters, and absolutely hilarious situations and dialogue.
Drinking Closer to Home was an entertaining, yet powerful look at one family through the ups and downs of life. You’ll find yourself completely appalled by this family, at the same time you love each and every one of the people in it. It’s an amazing contradiction, and I really admire Blau for provoking such strong feelings within me. I look forward to seeing what she does next.