Model Home by Eric Puchner
The Ziller family lives in a nice neighborhood in California, but things aren’t as nice as they seem. They moved to California because Warren, the father, got wind of a good investment. At first, things seemed to be going ok. A community was developed out in the desert with nice homes. The idea was to sell them all and make lots of money. Warren put everything on the line, so sure that it would work. Instead, a garbage dump was built near the site and no one wanted to buy.
Life at home started to fall apart. Camille thought Warren was cheating. Dustin was experimenting with alcohol and drugs, his behavior increasingly erratic. Lyle started going out with a young Mexican man who sat at the guardhouse. Jonas was as weird as ever and blamed himself for troubles that befell the family. When things came to light, as they often do in situations like this, things happened, bad things. The entire family ends up suffering in various ways.
Each of the children realize that what they thought they wanted wasn’t what they really wanted. Warren tried to make sense of his new life, as did Camille. They ended up living in one of the model homes, which wasn’t pleasant for any of them. The homes had been built as show pieces and partially finished sites, not places meant to be lived in. The air was constantly tainted with the smell of garbage. Things moved on though and live in the model home became the normal, although a weird normal, for the family. Life continued to happen and the family continued to revolve or not revolve around the model home.
What I liked
This book reminds me of a more hardcore version of Arrested Development. There are quite a few similarities between the show and this book. A family falls into ruin and they have to live in a model home. That sounds an awfully lot like Arrested Development, although this book isn’t funny like Arrested Development. This book is serious. I can’t imagine being in a situation where I lost everything. This book shows one way in which that could happen. One blow after the other in an already bad situation would be difficult to deal with.
What I didn’t like
Nothing about this book is really happy. It’s about a family that falls apart.
What gets me is that the husband, Warren, thought he could risk everything his family had for an investment, without considering the consequences. That’s gambling. Sometimes when you gamble, you lose– you lose big time. Warren lost big time. This could have happened to anybody. Warren isn’t an anomaly, but here’s the thing–this is irresponsible. It is irresponsible to gamble everything your family has for an investment. You’re not protecting your family if you do this. You’re not providing for your family if you do this. You’re being disrespectful because you didn’t even stop to consider how your loss would affect them. It’s selfish actually.
You can spout to me all these platitudes about “how he was doing it for his family” all you want, but ultimately, there were some selfish motives involved in this. Why in the heck would you even touch your child’s college fund for an investment? Really? That’s for your child, not for you, end of story, really.
Is it ever appropriate to risk everything your family has for an investment?
What if you lose everything your family has, do they owe you loyalty afterwards?