Second House from the Corner (★★★★☆)

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Sadeqa Johnson  *  Thomas Dunne Books  *  February 9, 2016  *  304 Pages

Felicia Lyons is a stressed out mother of three. She loves her husband and her kids, but the day-to-day grind is getting to be more than she can bear. She’s feeling the strain. When an ex-boyfriend unexpectedly contacts her, she is forced to confront a past that she had hoped was safely buried. Unfortunately for her, the fallout will be devastating.

This book was nothing that I expected it to be. Honestly, the story is so unique, unlike anything I’ve read before. At first, I had a hard time believing that this put-together woman could have such a crazy past–and, especially, that she would allow herself to be sucked back into it so willingly–but the more I read Second House from the Corner, the more I felt like I understood Felicia. I finally started to understand why she was making the choices she was and why she felt such a strong pull to lie about the things she had done.

Honestly, Felicia is a complicated woman, and she makes decisions that aren’t always easy for the reader to support. But I appreciate that this book acknowledges that marriage isn’t some straightforward experience, where everyone acts like a boy scout all the time. Relationships are complicated, and while I couldn’t agree with all of Felicia’s choices, I definitely understood where she was coming from. I empathized with her. Even more amazing, I still liked her.

My only minor complaint (which is also a MINOR SPOILER ALERT) is that I couldn’t believe for one second that Felicia would have let her husband separate her from her kids. No way, no how. Everything I had learned about this character up until that point made me believe that Felicia would have fought tooth and nail to be with her kids. The separation definitely helped move the plot of the book forward, but it felt inconsistent with the character.

Still, I really enjoyed this book. It’s a light read with a satisfying enough ending. I think this will be a good choice for book clubs, since there are many complicated and nuanced issues that are worth talking about: money, marriage, infidelity, race, friendship, secrets, kids, competition between family members, and the list goes on. Overall, this is a solid and engaging story.

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