Note: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Author: Kathryn Berla
Year: 2017 (first published in 2014)
The House at 758 is a peaceful reading. It offers a peek in the daily lige of Krista, a teenager who is still suffering for the loss of her mother. She’s depressed and refuses help; she’s trapped in her thoughts and she’s living only a half-life ever since her mother died.
She feels betrayed by her father, who managed to move on and build a new daily life with a new girlfriend. She feels alone, because she thinks no one can understand her. She feels like everyone else look at her with pity and she can’t bear it.
And then, there’s the house at 758. She can’t stop going there, even if the police warns her not to go there ever again.
She thinks she’ll spend this summer alone, grieving and stalking the house at 758. But her grandfather is coming to visit, and she has to take care of him, even though she thinks he’s a complete stranger.
Also, there’s Jake, a classmate who doesn’t seem as bad as the others. For once, he doesn’t look at her, or talk to her, like she’s about to burst into tears. And maybe, that’s just what she needs the most.
In this book, a variety of themes are addressed. There’s Krista’s depression and her struggles to move forward; there’s her growth and the new relationships she establish with Jake, her grandfather and other characters near her. And there’s the story of his grandfather, who experienced the Holocaust.
This mixture of themes is the strongest point of this novel. Unfortunately, it’s also its biggest flaw. In fact, I feel like no theme has been adressed with completeness. For this reason, at the end of the novel you might feel a bit empty, like nothing has really been solved. Krista’s growth starts in this book, but it doesn’t stop here: when we reach the ending, it’s like we’re only at the very beginning.
I’m not saying that as a bad thing; I think it’s awesome that it makes you feel that Krista has still room to grow, that the story doesn’t end there with a happily ever after. I’m not the biggest fan of open endings, but I think it’s the perfect one for this bitter sweet story.
The narration is what I liked the most. It managed to stay simple but at the same time to convey so many different feelings. Moreover, the mystery surrounding the house at 758 is well built and capable to surprise you even at the very end. Although I hoped it would have been the main focus of the novel, something that solves it all. But as I’ve already said before, this novel is the result of a mix of things just like in real life.
The fact that this novel is so realatable and near the reality makes it so enjoyable. The author doesn’t try to explain you how the different pieces come together. Simply, stuff happens and you have to take it and react to it at your best. As a reader, you’re discovering what Krista experiences and it’s up to you to draw the conclusions.
The only thing I wished it was better intertwined with the other things going on was the story of Krista’s grandfather and the development of their relationship. I feel like they strengthen their bond almost out of the blue; in this case, I think that some deepening was necessary. Also, as much as I appreciate the presence of the Holocaust theme, its relationship with the main points of the plot isn’t well explained. I mean, there’s a noticeable connection, but it’s not highlighted and doesn’t find its right place in Krista’s growth.
In conclusion, I’d totally recommend this book for the variety of feelings it conveys. I found it realistic, bitter sweet and peaceful, although the themes it deals with aren’t the easiest.
My rating: 4/5 stars