This Must Be the Place is so well put together, so gentle and surprising, it makes me kick myself that I don't pick up debut novels more often. The tone is funny and generous youthful and hip without the trendy bite. Kate Racculia has put together an interesting mix of themes. Meditations on family, identity, romance, and creativity swirl around a compelling set of relationships, many of which come about by proximity rather than by design. The boarding house is a great setting in which to explore the characters, to work through struggles of love and rattle the skeletons in the closet. The Darby-Jones inhabitants make up a multi-generational ensemble, and I can imagine mothers and teenage daughters alike relating to the relationships played out here. Romance is dealt with, but with a light touch (no genre-bound steaminess to cringe over). ...
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