Families are complicated because families are for life. Old wounds, fresh resentments, and big secrets all add to the intrigue of The Two-Family House. Unlike with other people, you can’t avoid family – especially not when you live in the same house. The complex history between characters and the ongoing story pull you in and keep you turning the page.
Two brothers, Abe and Mort, split a home in Brooklyn with their families. Abe and Helen live on the top floor and Mort and Rose on the bottom. Between them, they have 8 children, but it is the birth of the youngest two children that make the whole story spiral. Teddy and Natalie are born on the same blizzardy night, and the lives of everyone are never the same.
No one can figure out why the rift between Rose and Helen began, but the women – who were previously the best of friends – are no longer close after Teddy and Natalie come into the world. Perhaps it’s because Rose can never make Mort happy, even after giving him the son he always wanted. Maybe it’s the way Helen always swoops into the rescue whenever Rose struggles. Whatever the reason, the women are at odds. Meanwhile, the cousins continue to play with each other and the brothers continue to work together. But how long can such a setup last? Both families eventually recoil with the tension.
The Two-Family House covers the span of more than two decades. We see the children grow into young adults and start lives of their own while the parents reconcile their own roles in life and who they want to be. The story is told from alternating points of view, allowing readers a glimpse inside the characters’ minds. While readers are privy to some of the secrets between the families, Loigman weaves together plenty of plot twists to keep you guessing. Her style reminded me of Judy Blume for some reason…maybe it was the wholesome family moments sprinkled among the drama that seem so reminiscent of that time period (the 1940s). Either way, Loigman’s use of language was the perfect fit for the portrayal of this story. I found myself finishing the book in the span of a few days, and I am still thinking about it several days later.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Stats: 322 pages
Recommended for: Fans of Midwives by Chris Bohjalian or family dramas.*
Up Next: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
*SPOILER ALERT: There are some tough family situations that arise, so if you are the parent of a little one, you may want to steer clear of this book.