Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman


“She’d read somewhere that hurricanes had winds so powerful that a piece of straw could pierce an oak, thrown so hard it became deadly beyond its weight. She was the straw, pushed by forces she only barely understood.”

It almost seems like Frances Bloom lives on Wisteria Lane. She lives in the picture perfect neighborhood where she’s the mom in charge of getting everyone’s children off to school, but of course, there’s always more than meets the eye. This Desperate Housewive-y novel reminds readers that there is always something happening in other people’s houses and although human nature leads to us wanting to know everyone’s business, often times it’s easier for everyone if you don’t walk in on your neighbor fucking someone who is not her husband in her living room. Frances does her best to turn a blind eye, but when her neighbor Anne gets caught, she finds herself in the thick of all of the neighborhood drama including another mysterious absent wife.  

She looked down at her milk drunk daughter and suddenly understood that her mother has loved her like this, and she had loved her daughter more than her daughter would ever love her and that was how it was supposed to be. You’re supposed to walk away with only an occasional backward glance, and only appreciate years later, as you hold your own child; how painful that was for your parents. As Vonnegut said, so elegantly said: “So it goes.”
— Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

Other People’s Houses is a reminder that sometimes we are better off to watch our own bobbers. I found the change in narration interesting and important as it helped emphasize how at the end of the day, we are all focusing on our own problems. The book’s main character, Frances, was phenomenal at staying true to herself and propelling the story forward with the way that she inserted herself into everyone else’s lives. It was fascinating to watch all of the characters grow up in a sense. Waxman proves that we are never too old to learn some valuable life lessons.