The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman (General Fiction)
This book is the debut novel of a writer with great promise. I thoroughly enjoyed her writing style, and I found the story she told to be engrossing.
In the midst of a blizzard, two babies are born on the same night in a two-family house in Brooklyn. The mothers are sisters-in-law whose families have lived, one above the other, for many years. Their husbands are brothers who co-own a business, and each family already has several children. The daily lives of both families have long been intertwined, and after that night they are even more intertwined than before. As the years progress, however, the once-deep friendship between the two women begins to unravel, and only they know why.
While the reader has most likely figured out why, the real story lies in how the decisions made on that snowy night will ultimately affect the lives of everyone in the two families. How much will be revealed and what will the two women take to their graves? If and when it is revealed, how will the truth change the family dynamics?
The most important characters were well-drawn so that I cared about them, and the behavioral and emotional changes that occurred over time — some for the better, some not — felt realistic and understandable. The story spans twenty-one years, beginning in 1947, and is split into five parts with significant gaps in between. This requires periodic summaries of what happened in the interval, which sometimes seemed too minimal, but I don’t really know how a story with that timeframe could have been done any differently without becoming a somewhat unwieldy multigenerational saga. I found the ending to be satisfying, achieving the best possible outcome under the circumstances, and I would recommend this book for both its story and how well it was written.
Grandma gives The Two-Family House four stars.