The Two-Family House; Lynda Cohen-Loigman
St. Martin's Press - 2016
Set in Brooklyn beginning in 1947, The Two-Family House is the story of two Jewish families over the course of two decades. Abe and Mort are brothers, Helen and Rose are their wives. Abe and Helen have four young sons and Mort and Helen have three young daughters. The families are very close. The brothers own a business called, The Box Brothers and, Helen and Rose are closer than many sisters. The two families live in a two-family brownstone in Brooklyn where the parents and children share meals and celebrations as one big family. Then something happens when the women, with the help of a midwife, each give birth to one more baby on the same snowy night while their husbands are snowed in at the factory.
What happens on this snowy night fractures the families and changes their lives forever.
This was a tough book to review without giving spoilers and, if you are planning on trying this one, I recommend avoiding reading the book description and the many online reviews which seem to give away too much info.
The story is told from the perspective of each of the major characters and explores the meaning of family. Abe and Helen were certainly the more likable couple. Mort was bitter and cold and his lack of affection for his wife or children caused his wife Rose to sour as well. Readers who enjoy stories steeped in family dynamics, and stories with secrets should give this one a try. I found the ending satisfying as well. There are many themes to explore here: marriage, children, family, grief, secrets and more. This would make a good discussion book and I found this to be an impressive debut novel.