A Home Like Ours - Fiona Lowe

Goodreads Book Blurb:

As a small town turns on itself, three women discover true friends aren’t always the ones you think you know… A compulsive page-turner from bestselling Australian author Fiona Lowe.

Tara Hooper is at breaking point. With two young children, a business in a town struggling under an unexpected crime wave, and her husband more interested in his cricket team than their marriage, life is a juggling act. Then, when new neighbours arrive and they are exactly the sort of people the town doesn’t want or need, things get worse.

Life has taught Helen Demetriou two things: being homeless is terrifying and survival means keeping your cards close to your chest. Having clawed back some stability through her involvement in the community garden, she dares to relax. But as she uncovers some shady goings-on in the council, that stability turns to quicksand.

For teenage mother Jade Innes, life can be lonely among the judgement of the town and the frequent absences of her boyfriend. A chance encounter draws her into the endangered community garden where she makes friends for the first time. Glimpsing a different way of life is enticing but its demands are terrifying. Does she even deserve to try?

Can these women with such differing loyalties unite to save the garden and ultimately stop the town from tearing itself apart?

Genres:

My Review:

***Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided.

not my cup of tea:
2/5
I’m struggling to find the words to write this review. Different from anything I’d read before, A Home Like Ours is a fictional story addressing homelessness, refugees, racism, single and teen mothers, spousal abuse, disability, extramarital affairs, small business ownership, and political corruption – to name a few of the themes. I think that may be the problem here; it’s not possible to honestly address everything here and still feel like a responsible and accurate representation of these very real issues, even with almost 600 pages. This could, or should, have been several shorter novels within a series, each focusing on different characters and highlighting one or two specific issues.

Another problem was that I couldn’t make myself feel any interest in any of the characters. They were clearly written to fit specific roles (protagonist/villain/underdog/savior), I just didn’t like any of them. They were all narcissistic, existing in their own bubbles, disregarding the feelings of others around them, and refusing to consider they may be rude, incorrect, racist, or just wrong. They all had this ‘poor me’ attitude, even after being forced to admit that they may be the ones at fault in their negative interactions with others. The only people I liked were the refugees who were all side characters and had to deal with the main characters’ small mindedness and egotism.

So why, with all of these problems, did I persevere through this longer than average novel? I suppose I was hoping that with time the characters would become more likable and address their prejudices, that the story would simplify and focus on less topics, and the conclusion would provide some satisfaction. Whatever it was, something kept me reading. While the ending wasn’t necessarily disappointing, the ‘twist’ was predictable from a mile away and it seemed to end on the same mediocre note consistent throughout the book.

Something worth mentioning is that I do believe it could be difficult, or at least irritating, for readers in the international community to follow along. The author likes to throw around common Australian vernacular and assumes that the reader will be aware of government programs and Victorian companies and regions without explanation. Having lived in Australia for the last seven years it was easy enough for me to follow along, but I can see others becoming discouraged from having to skip or google unknown concepts, ruining the flow of the story.

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