Why I read it: I won a copy in a goodreads giveaway
Who I’d recommend it to: People who like quick reads with hope, second chances in various forms, and like/don’t mind reading about restoring historic houses.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (3.5 stars)
What it’s about:
People keep a house alive, not the other way around. Alex Proctor has seen the truth of this in every empty, rundown property she s bought and renovated since her divorce almost three years ago. She s also experienced the thrill of making each one into a home.
Her newest project is a dilapidated, century-old house just a few blocks from Geneva Lake, Wisconsin. Time and neglect, along with rats and raccoons, have ravaged it inside and out. Only Alex can see the beauty of what it once was and might become again. In just a few weeks by the time the cicadas make their scheduled reappearance after seventeen years underground the house should be ready to sell. In the meantime, there are construction disasters, and surprises, to contend with.
Amid overgrown grounds and rooms brimming with debris, Alex finds treasures pocket doors, hardwood floors hidden beneath layers of linoleum and grime and carved initials that reveal a long-ago love story involving Alex s elderly neighbor, Elsie, and another cicada summer. At the same time, Alex finds herself searching for a way to reconcile her new life with lingering feelings for her ex-husband. For so long she felt sure that moving on was the only option, but maybe this house, and everything she s learning in it, could give Alex room for a second chance . . .
I entered a giveaway for this because I’ve been in a massive multi-genre slump most of the year, so I’ve been looking for more books that aren’t the kinds of stories I usually read. This definitely fit the bill, because it’s not at all the kind of book I would normally read.
What hooked me first about the description was the house. I have a weird fascination with architecture and home renovation and the like. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of detail the house and repairs received, but I feel like it might get tedious for people who don’t care at all about stuff like that. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a lot of info-dumping throughout the entire book, but it was important to the story and had more page time than I expected.
The cicada theme wasn’t too cheesy or in your face, which I liked. It was obvious, throughout the book, but done well. Cicadas (well, some kinds, I think) emerge every 17 years, very briefly. They come out, mate, lay eggs, and then die. The nymphs (baby cicadas) hatch, eventually burrow underground, and then emerge in another 17 years. This cycle of rebirth, while not following the 17 years of cicada cycles, was still very much an underlying theme in the form of second chances for different people throughout the book.
I liked Alex most of the time, and I felt for her. She was dealing with so much and I think she handled it all as best she could. The description isn’t lying when it says there were disasters and surprises during the renovation of the house. I remember more than once groaning and actually saying, “Oh, come on!” Despite the couple of issues I had with Alex and some choices she made, I was rooting for her. My biggest issue came with the way the book ended. I won’t say what happened, just that I was hoping for something different. I didn’t hate the ending, though, I was just a little disappointed with it. (I think a lot of people will probably be happy with it, though.)
This was a light, easy read, and I think it would make a great beach read if you’re the kind of person who goes to the beach.