Title: Second House from the Corner by Sadeqa Johnson
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Felicia Lyons, a stressed out stay-at-home mom, struggles to sprint ahead of the demands of motherhood while her husband spends long days at the office. Felicia taps, utters mantra, and breathes her way through most situations, but on some days, like when the children won’t stop screaming her name or arguing over toy trucks and pretzel sticks, she wonders what it would be like to get in her car and drive away.
Then one evening the telephone rings, and in a split second the harried mother’s innocent fantasy becomes a hellish reality. The call pulls her back into a life she’d rather forget. Felicia hasn’t been completely honest about her upbringing, and her deception forces her return to the Philadelphia of her childhood, where she must confront the family demons and long buried secrets she thought she had left behind.
From a phenomenal fresh voice in fiction, comes the compelling story of what happens when the dream falls apart. It’s the unforgettable tale of love, loss, rediscovery, and the growing pains of marriage.
In Sadeqa Johnson’s Second House from the Corner, frazzled stay at home mom Felicia Lyons’ marriage teeters on the brink of divorce when her long buried past comes back to haunt her.
Felicia is a happily married mom of three young children but with her husband Preston working long hours, all of the child-rearing and household duties rest squarely on her shoulders. Stressed to the breaking point, she is suddenly contacted by two people from her past whose demands send her careening down a rebellious path. The unexpected phone calls from Martin Dupree, a much older man who seduced her into an illicit romance when she was a teenager, immediately awakens the same heat she felt for him all those years ago. Trying to discover how Martin tracked her down, Felicia gets in touch with her childhood best friend Shayla Douglas which puts her right in the middle of Shayla’s boyfriend drama. Despite her best efforts to keep her past hidden, when Preston finds out about her previous relationship with Martin, he is so deeply betrayed that he refuses to listen to her explanation. With nowhere to go, Felicia naturally gravitates to her beloved Gran’s house where she tries to make sense of those long ago events and decide what comes next for her marriage and her children.
Felicia is an extremely frustrating character who makes one wrong decision after another. It is difficult to feel sympathy for her when a lot of stress could be eliminated by cutting back a little on the kids’ extracurricular activities. While understandable that she wants her children to have the best opportunities in life, it is pretty obvious that not only is she over extended but based on their behavior, so are the kids. Felicia’s growing animosity over Preston’s long hours spills over into secretive behavior as she escapes from her day to day life. And when she returns to her grandmother’s house? Oh. My. Gosh. Her decisions go from bad to worse as she reverts to old behaviors to try to forget her problems with Preston.
However, Felicia finally comes to her senses once she realizes she has let herself be taken advantage of once again. Her feelings of shame overwhelm her and she finds herself slipping into depression. She continues to hide from her problems, but there comes a point when she finally realizes that ignoring these troubling issues is not healthy nor are her painful memories going to just vanish. Help arrives in a somewhat unorthodox manner but Felicia finally finds the inner strength to confront not only her mistakes but Preston as well.
Despite feeling annoyed with some of Felicia’s choices, Second House from the Corner is a riveting read that is realistic yet entertaining. Sadeqa Johnson’s portrayal of Felicia is unflinchingly honest and she does not shy away from difficult topics. While it is a painful journey for both the reader and Felicia, it is extremely gratifying when she finally forgives herself for her mistakes and takes control of her life. The conclusion of the novel is a bit abrupt but overall, the ending is positive.
Gritty, raw and real, Second House from the Corner is an enjoyable, thought-provoking novel that I enjoyed and easily recommend to readers of women’s fiction.