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Drinking Closer to Home

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  1,515 Ratings  ·  190 Reviews
“Riveting and startling….So raw and funny I wanted to read parts aloud to strangers.” —Dylan Landis, author of Normal People Don't Live Like This

“Jessica Anya Blau…creates characters that have a lot more depth and more of a past than one often sees in fiction these days…. I found it impossible not to care about them—and equally impossible to forget them. Blau is a magnific
ebook, 368 pages
Published January 18th 2011 by HarperCollins e-books (first published December 29th 2010)
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Jan 19, 2011 Staci rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Staci by: TLC Tour Book
Well, this will be a short and sweet (maybe not) review...reason being...I just did not care for this book. I found the parents to be narcissistic, neglectful, and frankly, they pissed me off with their behavior. I tried to lighten up and just enjoy this read, but I couldn't. My favorite character and the one that I felt a lot of sympathy for was Emery. He was basically raised by his sisters and really just went about his life. I loved watching him grow into a responsible and loving adult. I wil ...more
Mar 26, 2012 Tuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
you can't help laughing with this family novel as the characters are always cracking each other up, even if, or because it's laughing from crying. this is one of many novels about modern, well off, liberal, usa jewish families i have been through lately:
Bee Season
The Free World (well, ok, here the family is BECOMING modern, well off, liberal.....)

Heir to the Glimmering World: A Novel
The Fallback Plan
To the End of the Land (isreal, same difference right?)
Life on Sandpaper
Ghost Lights
drinking clos
Mar 24, 2011 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From author

Taste is a funny thing. My taste in novels, for those of you who may not know, tends to run a bit left of centre. I prefer burying myself nose-deep in bizarro, drug-induced, run-on sentenced, experimental fiction. Or inhaling amazing "fly so low under the radar that there is no radar low enough to fly under" indie fiction. Very rarely do I indulge in what I like to call straight-laced, main stream "your mom could totally read this book" fiction.

And yet, when I do indulge in it, more o
Heather Donald
May 20, 2011 Heather Donald rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Glass Castle, Drinking Closer to Home just didn't do it for me. I thought the characters were mean. I thought the author was trying too hard to shock the reader. I found the excessive use of curse words annoying (and trust me, I love to curse!).

Although, the one saving grace for the book was on the second to last page: "Portia is surprised that she has not faded and evaporated with the loss of her mother...She understands suddenly that the stuff that fills her up is not the love o
Sara Strand
Jul 24, 2012 Sara Strand rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before I get into the review, I will tell you- I loved this book. I loved it because I could relate to it. I think most people would agree that most families are quirky and weird and no family is like the other. My family is just me, my brother, my mom, and my step dad. And I remember growing up knowing my parents were not like the other parents and I remembered thinking how weird they were. My parent's didn't volunteer, they didn't cart me and my friends around wherever we wanted to go, they tr ...more
Apr 15, 2011 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was at once appalled and in love with this quirky family!

Anna, Portia and Emery are summoned back home when their mother, Louise, has a massive heart attack. During Louise's time in the hospital recovering, the three children reminisce about their childhood, their odd parents, Buzzy and Louise, their even odder extended family and where the road has taken them.

"It has only been recently that Anna forgave her mother for a litany of crimes Anna had been carrying in her stomach like a knotted sq
Richard Thomas
Jun 29, 2011 Richard Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(This review was originally published at The Nervous Breakdown.)

A touching, funny, and unflinching look at a dysfunctional family, Drinking Closer to Home (Harper Perennial) by Jessica Anya Blau is a history that many of us may have lived. Hippie parents, competition between siblings, and the growing pains that we all endured: these are the fond memories and nightmares of our youth. What do you do when your mother quits being a mother? When your father grows pot plants in the back yard? When you
Story of three adult siblings who come together to visit their mother in the hospital after she has a serious heart attack. It's a wacky family and I was thankful over and over for my (somewhat) less crazy childhood. At times the reminiscing might seem over the top but, in fact, I went to high school with a girl whose family was pretty similar. *Also, see below. Here, the mother gets tired of being a parent, so she "quits" being a mother and spends all her time secluded in her studio, getting hi ...more
Sean Beaudoin
Jan 20, 2011 Sean Beaudoin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Through this very funny and forthright look at an unusual family dynamic (actually far more usual than the family itself imagines), Blau has written a Santa Barbara morality tale. A present-day medical emergency forces three siblings to confront the ways in which their pre-seatbelt and bike helmet 70's upbringing has informed who they've become. The story, told in refreshingly clean prose (there is no overt cleverness to distract--Blau knows her story and its details are more than enough to keep ...more
Jun 06, 2011 Jessika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First and foremost, I would like to thank Erica at Harper Perennial for providing me with a copy of Drinking Closer to Home for review!

I fell in love with this book as I read. At first, I wasn’t so sure about the third person narrative—it seemed a little off to me. But as I read, I got used to Blau’s style and stopped noticing it. I actually really enjoyed Blau’s writing style. The way she writes, you forget that you’re reading and that you’re not actually there with the characters. And speakin
Mar 06, 2011 Patty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy read, kept my attention, but it was almost dysfunction overload for me. I kept thinking that maybe this was a true story because several chapters were sending me the 'too crazy not to be true' vibe. The author definitely kept my attention because I wanted to quickly get to the end of this book to see how author let the characters evolve. I would definitely recommend this book to friends, but not to my mom!
ok...i changed my rating because i met the author and found out that this book is pre
This book took me a long time (for me) to read because I read a few books in between while I was reading this one. It just didn't capture me too much. I liken it to an independent movie, which are often about not much at all, and then just end. It had sort of a plot... Three grown children return to their parents when their mom has a heart attack, and then the book intersperses with flashbacks from the perspective of different kids about their upbringing or growing up. While growing up, the pare ...more
Oct 24, 2010 Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Drinking Closer to Home by Jessica Anya Blau is a wonderful, sweet, poignant, and hilarious novel about family relationships. It's a brutally honest look at a truly dysfunctional family that takes place (in many flashbacks) from the 1970's to the early 1990's. Every character is flawed, but they're some of the most likable, intriguing characters that I've ever come across. I absolutely loved this book! I looked forward to each moment I could spend with this wonderful, crazy, loving family and wa ...more
Susan Henderson
Imagine a home with a nudist mother, a bird that perches on the living room curtain rod and shits on the couch, and an empty pool in the backyard filled with bikes. Imagine growing up in this home and then returning as an adult to the hospital bedside of this nudist mother. A gloriously rich portrait of three adult children who discover the tensions and hurts they still have between them are inextractable from the laughter and love.
I like reading fiction about dysfunctional families, but this one had characters with only one layer. It really should have landed in my DNF pile along with one of the author's other books. The conflict for me is that I think the author is a good writer, she just needs to make her characters have something in them that makes the reader connect with.
Gayle Burns
I like novels about crazy families. Last of the Mulvaneys, etc. (This is not nearly a Joyce Carol Oates book.) Crazy California family is its own niche and I thought more about TV like "Transparent" and all the way back to the Louds ("An American Family"). It was ok.
Entertaining and upbeat at the end, but an awful lot of dysfunction, drugs and sex in the middle. The story of how three siblings come together as adults around their mom's sickbed, with flashbacks to their colorful childhood, kept my interest. But I ended up liking it MUCH more after meeting the author, Jessica Blau, when she came to our book club meeting! The book is almost a memoir, but written as fiction. She is utterly charming and told us all the details about what was true and what was re ...more
Aug 25, 2016 Sherry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-2014
After reading the first few chapters, I was sure I was going to hate this book. I got to the end, and I was sad. The story was crazy, the timelines were all over the place, the characters were... well, colorful to say the least. Once I adjusted to the timeline - really, just think of it as the way memories work: present and past. Present is linear, but remembering the past isn't. Memories happen at any time. I loved the characters, I think Emery was my favorite. I just loved this book!
Greg Olear
Jan 15, 2011 Greg Olear rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The family of Southern California eccentrics who populate Jessica Anya Blau’s tour de force of a second novel are written with such warmth and tenderness that for all of their foibles -- and said foibles run the gamut; there is enough delicious debauchery here to make a summer of naked swim parties look like eight weeks at YMCA camp -- it’s impossible not to love them. I want to hang out with the Steins. You will, too. Blau is a masterful storyteller.

May 21, 2011 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
With their cute family jokes & secrets that have to be explained to outsiders to the pot smoking mom that will only swim nude, this book explores the spectrum of all families. Every family is dysfunctional some are just more out there than others. This family is OUT there dysfunctional but in the end they love, laugh, share and support one another so it works. I really think that is all that matters.

I can't say enough how much I loved this book. It builds upon Summer of Naked Swim Parties, Jessica's previous novel. While that was sweet coming of age, this is a more mature, funnier family novel. Can't wait till it comes out in January and I can start promoting the hell out of it.
Robyn Russell
Once I got over the sheer number of exclamation marks used throughout this novel, I fell in love with the quirky, flawed, and unforgettable Stein family. Blau is a master at dialogue, and switches between past and present with admirable grace and skill. That being said, several serious issues that plague the main characters--anorexia, bulimia, addiction, infidelity--are given cursory treatment; very little in this novel is examined in depth. The book also comes to an abrupt and wholly predictabl ...more
Jul 23, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suppose liking this book or not would be dependent upon which is more important to you, appreciating greatly-written complex characters or actually LIKING those characters. I didn't particularly always like these people (and I was less entranced after reading the afterward which indicates this book is so closely related to the author's real life it wasn't much of a stretch to create these characters) but I was deeply interested in them. The book made me chuckle and cringe and tear up. Plus I k ...more
Jan 19, 2011 Joanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the kind of book that has a way of getting under my skin (in a good way) as I'm reading, and even moreso as I ponder it upon completion! This story gives us the nitty, gritty details of about the most dysfunctional family I could imagine by bringing us into the lives of three siblings.

Buzzy and Louise have raised their three children in a remote area of California and now that they have grown they seemed to have disbursed throughout various sections of the United States. After Louise has
From my book review blog Rundpinne..."Drinking Closer to Home by Jessica Anya Blau is a book I think one will either really enjoy or not, unfortunately I was in the latter category. The story opens in 1993 California where Louise has suffered from a massive heart attack and her children, Anna, Portia, Emery, along with Emery’s boyfriend, Alejandro, fly back to California and stay with their father, Buzzy, in Buzzy’s and Louise Stein’s new home, Casa del Viento Fuerte. The Stein family is the qui ...more
Kari Anderson
Mar 01, 2011 Kari Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anna, Portia and Emery; all from the same blood line, all with very different lives. In Drinking Closer to Home, their mother is sick. She had a heart attack and now, they’re not sure she will make it. When things like this happen, you think back to the good times, the bad and the oh so memorable. This book takes you on a trip from the time these three were youngsters, through their college years and brings you back to today, all sharing little fragments of their lives and how their mother influ ...more
Frances Lockhart
This novels cover is so decorated the accolades and praise that there was no room for a synopsis of any kind. This should have been enough to ring alarm bells that the content was therefore going to fall short of any of the praise the author's friends were heaping on it.

Most comments on the cover kept assuring me it was "side-splitting hilairious!" It really was not any work of comedy. Perhaps had it sold itself as a quirky, off-beat novel about about a very dysfunctional family I would have gon
Sue Morris
Feb 17, 2011 Sue Morris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults who enjoy quirky families and young teens
Anna, Portia and Emery, adult siblings, meet at their parents home after their mother, Louise, suffers a massive heart attack. Dad Buzzy called each one after Louise insisted he not. Louise is thrilled to see her children making one wonder why she did not want Buzzy to call them. While there to comfort their mother and each other, we learn of the childhood days and early adulthoods of each sibling. Anna, Portia and Emery are products of the seventies. Anyone who grew up during that decade will i ...more
Jessica Anya Blau’s Drinking Closer To Home, while fast-paced and shocking, is a difficult novel to digest. We’re presented with a group of very disturbed people, but I couldn’t put the book down; I had to know how this family became so eternally messed up. And how they all managed to emerge from that — though not unscathed.

Blau’s focus on family dynamics, marriage and infidelity were what carried the book for me. For having spent more than 300 pages with these people, I never felt like I got a
Sara Habein
Mar 23, 2011 Sara Habein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While their behavior is not always admirable, it is often entertaining and understandable. Every plot point and personality detail may not be true to Blau’s real life, but she writes in a way that mimics the honesty within memoir. Writers pilfer from their lives to varying degrees, and I like how she just flat out says, Yes, this is based on my family, right down to the Nixon articles pasted to the bathroom wall.

Drinking Closer to Home is both a funny and heart-squeezing book, though not outrigh
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Jessica Anya Blau's passionate and poignant debut novel is a story of one girl's coming of age in 1970's Southern California."
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“She understands suddenly that the stuff that fills her up is not the love or attention she might get from other people; it is the love she herself has for other people. We are, Portia decides, the people we love” 11 likes
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