Housebreaking: Book summary and reviews of Housebreaking by Colleen Hubbard


by Colleen Hubbard

Housebreaking by Colleen Hubbard X
Housebreaking by Colleen Hubbard
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  • Publishes in USA 
    Apr 19, 2022
    368 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Following a long-standing family feud and looking to settle the score, a woman decides to dismantle her family home—alone and by hand—and move it across a frozen pond during a harsh New England winter in this mesmerizing debut.

Del has never had a good relationship with her family. After her parents' divorce, and with the town rumor mill in full swing, Del's uncle and the rest of the family shunned her and her mother. For years, there was nothing she could do about this.

Now, with both of her parents gone, a chance has arrived.

Her uncle wants the one thing Del inherited: the family home.

Instead of handing the place over and giving her uncle what he wants, and with no other resources at her disposal, Del decides she will tear the place apart herself, by hand – piece by piece.

But as she'll soon discover, the task stirs up more than just old memories for Del as family members—each in their own state of unraveling—come knocking on her door.

This spare, strange, magical book is both a story of the powerlessness and hurt that runs through a family but also about the moments when brokenness can offer us the rare chance to start again.

aperback original

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Media Reviews

"A wry and unexpectedly tender story of finding the family we need when we least expect it. Perfect for fans of Olive Kitteridge and The Good House."—Eleanor Brown, New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters

"Deliciously witty and deeply poignant. Sharp, surprising and memorable, this is a book I know I'll keep mulling over for a long, long time."—Emma Hooper, bestselling author of Etta and Otto and Russell and James

"Darkly funny and brimming with pathos...For fans of Elizabeth Strout, Ottessa Moshfegh...This is a humorous and life-affirming trip through the fraught, weird heart of America, exploring the granular details that make and break a life." —Sharlene Teo, award-winning author of Ponti

This information about Housebreaking shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Windell H. (Rock Hill, SC)

Great debut novel. Fun to read and ideal for book club discussion. Lots of quirky characters that keep you wanting to see what happens next. The main character Del comes of age when she feels her life needs more than it has been in the past (not a great childhood). She creates a challenge to redeem a past of failures and disappointments by saving her old childhood home (piece by piece ) from a greedy uncle who wants to develop her property. In the end she finds that giving is far greater than taking.

Sandy B. (Charlottesville, VA)

A strong debut
I enjoyed this story and these characters. The book really went places and in directions I didn't predict. At times I expected some sort of tragedy or violence would intrude, but that's not what the book was about. At times I wondered if a romance would take center stage, but again, not what the book is about. The book also avoided the over-done plucky heroine trope - Del is plenty strong and resourceful, but you see her struggles and worries and failures alongside her victories. The characters are complicated and real - no absolute villains and no absolute heroes, just real people whose stories help you understand them all. I won't say I totally understood the main quest in the book, but I certainly won't ever think about houses and how they are built or what they mean to the families who live in them in the same way. The book was quiet and a rewarding read.

Marcia C. (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA)

Enjoyed it immensely
I am grateful to BookBrowse and to Berkeley Publishing Group for giving me an advanced reader's copy of a fabulous new book by first time novelist Colleen Hubbard entitled Housebreaking. The book is scheduled for publication in April 2O22. I enjoyed it immensely, despite the fact that few of it's characters have many redeeming qualities.

The protagonist is a young, headstrong, teenage girl who's parents have died and who has few friends except for the gay male friends of her late father. The only surviving family she has is her late mother's brother and his 3 sons, all of whom she detests, and his wife, whom she barely tolerates. She drifts from job to job and has no assets, until she learns that her mother's dilapidated, old house, in which she grew up and that which she inherited, is the only obstacle to her uncle's plan to subdivide the land upon which it sits and build a housing complex. To spite her uncle , she proposes to accept less money for the house in exchange for a small piece of land that isn't buildable and time to demolish the house herself.

She immediately sets to work dismantling the house piece by piece and dragging the pieces across a frozen pond to her newly acquired patch of land. Although she prefers solitude and rejects most people with whom she is forced to interact during this time, she finds that she has made a genuine friend in the end.

Courtenay B. (Ivor, VA)

The writing is so good, the reading is effortless!
Fast-paced, entertaining, and impossible to put down, a book so well written you simply glide through the chapters. As a reader, you cannot help but eagerly and vicariously explore all the heroine's experiences willingly. We are her. She is us. And we are invested in seeing our main character succeed. We are not voyeurs but, participants in the book. I was gripped from beginning to end. Superbly written!

Borderlass (Belmont, MA)

A Worthy Book Club Pick....
Our "twenty-something" protagonist, 'Del,' finding herself in desperate circumstances after a series of losses - gets a call from a New England cousin which sets in motion an opportunity for her to look into her one remaining asset - her much neglected family home left to her by her long-deceased, divorced mother. She must make some decisions about a possible sale of the land beneath it to her mother's brother whose family's construction firm will roll it into a lucrative development.

Without giving away the plot, suffice it to say, this is literary fiction at its finest. Relationships are explored, characters are defined, and its rich, often humorous dialogue places this as a worthy book club pick. I read all 300-some-odd pages in one fell swoop, and rejoiced in it - board by board, stone by stone. Colleen Hubbard has written a masterpiece.

Carol F. (Lake Linden, MI)

Strangely Good
Del sets out on the improbable job of tearing down her run-down family home piece by piece simply so that her uncle cannot bulldoze it as it stands. I found that the cast of unusual characters were so oddly believable that they became unforgettable. A compelling look at unexpected friendships, self determination and perseverance.

...12 more reader reviews

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More Information

A native of New England, Colleen Hubbard now lives in the U.K. with her family. She wrote her debut novel, Housebreaking, while on maternity leave from her job with the NHS. She graduated from the University of East Anglia's MA program in creative writing, where she earned the Head of School Prize with a distinction.

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