The Glass House

Bolinda Audio. Jan. 2023. 8:25 hrs. ISBN 9781038632289. $24.99. F
Dunnell’s debut novel (after the short story collection Female(s and) Dogs) follows Julia, who takes time away from her husband and their physical-therapy practice to help her father move into an assisted-living facility. Beleaguered by nightmares about her stepdaughter, insecurity about her work, family obligations, infertility, and an unsure future, she prepares to face her hometown and mounting worries alone. Visits to old haunts and the unsolicited attentions of an overbearing childhood friend bring Julia back to the past. Though clouded by unreliable memories, childhood insecurities, and lingering feelings of unworthiness, truths come to light. Narrator Fiona McLeod deftly presents the complex blend of naivete and inattentiveness to others that have shaped Julia’s life. Her depiction of secondary characters is excellent, including a stellar portrait of Julia’s loud and often obnoxious childhood friend. The marked difference between these characterizations is startling but effective. Despite a realistic portrayal of Julia’s fierce determination to forget the past, her willful blindness does become tiresome, and the predictable ending disappoints.
VERDICT While listeners may piece together Julia’s past before she does, those seeking to explore weighty topics, including repressed memories, aging parents, bullying, and unconventional families, will enjoy.
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