Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Book Review - House Rules by Rachel Sontag

From Goodreads:

Rachel Sontag grew up the daughter of a well-liked doctor in an upper middle class suburb of Chicago. The view from outside couldn't have been more perfect. But within the walls of the family home, Rachel's life was controlled and indeed terrorized by her father's serious depression. In prose that is both precise and rich, Rachel's childhood experience unfolds in a chronological recounting that shows how her father became more and more disturbed as Rachel grew up.
A visceral and wrenching exploration of the impact of a damaged psyche on those nearest to him, House Rules will keep you reading even when you most wish you could look away.

My Thoughts:

While I enjoyed reading this memoir, it was difficult to read about the mental/verbal abuse that Rachel's father bestowed upon her. I would visibly cringe at times at some of the things that her father said to her, all the while Rachel was constantly seeking love and acceptance from him.

Besides experiencing a strong dislike for the father, I felt ambivalence towards Rachel's mother and sister. I felt that Rachel's mother should have supported her more....although I think I understood why she couldn't (or wouldn't). Her life with her controlling husband was already a living hell and she did not want to make things worse. Rachel's sister was more or less the "invisible" child, where Rachel was on the receiving end of her father's constant attention, whether it be good or bad.

House Rules is a truly compelling memoir that was arduous to read but almost impossible for me to put down. Highly recommended!

Photobucket Very Good!

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (March 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061341231
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061341236


Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

Awesome review. This one sounds really good, and I love the cover.

Unknown said...

It always amazes me when you hear the real life tales of what went on in a family behind closed doors. To the outer world dad The Doctor was a well-liked man. And behind those closed doors he terrorized his daughter. I never think of depression as an illness that causes a person to lash out at their loved ones but it sounds like this man did that to the nth degree and more.

I think your review of this book is great and I'm very interested in reading it. I may also reading a sweet, happy, light book at the same time. though!

~ Amy

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

This is definitely going on my "must read" list. Your review spotlighted a phenomenon that recurs more often than we would think...a family with secrets beneath a seemingly perfect exterior.

Lisa said...

Why is always so surprising to find out that this kind of thing happens in wealthy homes? We just assume that educated people will know better. But mental illness and a childhood of abuse don't differentiate.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin
Blog Design by Use Your Imagination Designs Enchanted Neighborhood kit by Irene Alexeeva