Monday, February 14, 2011

Books: Model Home by Eric Puchner

I finished Eric Puchner's Model Home a couple of weeks ago but liked it enough that I'm still kind of thinking about it.  I'll be the first to admit that it took me a long time to finish this book, which is due to the fact that it was very hard for me to get into it.  The beginning seemed slow but perhaps that's because Puchner is introducing us to all of the characters, each of which narrates at one point or another, albeit in the third person.  We get to know each of the Ziller family members pretty well, and I think that after I had a handle on each of them, I finally fell into Model Home

There is a running theme of slogans, whether on t-shirts or bumper stickers, and it made Model Home seem very cohesive.  Even when their lives are totally changed, life still goes on; the minutia of ordinary days adds to the story's believability.  I do admit that I thought the story had really hit it's stride before it jumped a year into the future but I became acquainted with the new versions of these characters and found a new appreciation in their situation. 

The ending isn't happy but I was more than okay with that.  The Ziller family settles into new lives.  After a tragedy (I really hate that word but it's fitting here), the siblings grow apart and then come together again.  Puchner really gets how families can be with each other all of the time and still not know one another.  And he isn't afraid to be graphic or raw. 

Here's an example: There is a scene that I particularly like from the first section of Model Home: Dustin, the oldest son, goes to a party.  He is a typical California teen surfer but he is tired of his image, tired of being perceived as nicer than he really is.  When he sees these completely drunk and drugged out fifteen year olds, he notices that one of them has a piece of metal sticking out of her mouth.  The girl was so out of it that she tried to rip off her braces with a pliers but was unsuccessful.  There's a really pure moment when Dustin thinks to himself 'This girl is so hardcore, maybe I'm just fooling myself."  I love self-doubt because it is such a natural trait.  Everyone can identify in one way or another.  I'd recommend this book if are into stories that make you think about your own life, particularly your relationships with family.  Model Home sends a message that doesn't just fade away.