bookczuk's Reviews > House Arrest

House Arrest by Ellen Meeropol
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's review
Oct 27, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: first-novel-or-book, met-or-know-the-author, places-i-have-been
Read from October 21 to 22, 2010

I'm a sucker for first novels. Most of my reading friends know that, and will often send me premiere works of an author to sample. House Arrest would have appealed to me for that reason alone, but it was the writing, and the shaping of characters and story that won me.

This debut novel explores aspects of friendship that often are ignored. The two main characters come from completely different backgrounds, and each are reluctant to trust another individual, to move out of the comfort zone each has carved out of their worlds. These two women, a home health nurse and a young woman, pregnant with her second child, on home arrest after the suspicious death of her first child in a cult related activity, are thrown together by circumstance. They forge a bond that forces them each to struggle, grow, trust and forgive, in order to move forward in their lives -- a friendship born from diversity. Each examines their inner scale that balances right and wrong, sorting the moral, legal, ethical, and humane issues that ultimately both bind them together and free them.

I have to 'fess up. Ellen Meeropol is one of my dearest friends. We haven't been in as close touch as we once were, since we both retired from nursing, but she still remains in the count when someone asks me to think of my closest friends. I've read poetry and prose of hers in the past. What impressed me beyond the story was how she has grown since I last read her work. She has shaped and tempered her craft. She is a writer.

Knowing Ellen personally, it was interesting to see how she entwined her own passions for truth, political activism and her career of nursing into the story. We met as nurses working with children who were born with Spina Bifida and their families. Even in that work, she was an advocate and activist for children with disabilities and for people with latex allergies. We collaborated on many projects to increase awareness of latex allergy, and she was the person who first recognized the symptoms of my own illness. (Good nurse that I am, I ignored her, and almost died for my efforts. Moral: Always listen to Elli.) Today, twenty years after we first began increasing awareness of this allergy, it is still not well known, and there are still people, even in the medical profession, who do not take it seriously. I think were they to read this story, it might just make the difference.

The ultimate appeal of this book, though is with the characters. It is easy to imagine meeting any one of these people, with their beliefs, self-doubts and search for answers: Emily wondering if she'd missed signs of an infection in a patient, Gina's curiosity at meeting a celebrity patient, Sam's love for his daughter, Pippa's examination of the world she had taken for granted. Decisions are not always easily defined, but the reader is carried along completely as these characters move through the maze of issues which confront them. Every one of us has a story to tell. House Arrest allows us to glimpse the tales of some ordinary people who transcend the every-day, and reach toward the extraordinary.

(This unusual and thought provoking story is due out in February 2011)
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Chana (new) - added it

Chana Although I haven't read this book I really like your review, both of the book and about your friendship and history with the author. I would have passed this book up just based on the cover, but after reading your review I would like to read it.

bookczuk It's out in February. :)

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