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Small Hours by Jennifer Kitses

Small Hours

by Jennifer Kitses

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176587,099 (3.79)5



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This book detailed 24 hours in the lives of Tom and Helen, a married couple, told in alternating chapters. Talk about people who make bad decision choices - these two take the cake! Simple domestic scenes turned into situations fraught with drama, and Tom's work situation was a bomb just waiting to explode. As the tension mounted, it was hard to determine how this was all going to turn out. Up until the last chapter, when I started to realize I probably wasn't going to like the way the story ended, I was captivated by the writing. Unfortunately, the ending was ambiguous and left me with a dissatisfied feeling. ( )
  flourgirl49 | Sep 10, 2017 |
The Short of It:

Told in one single day, this story is both well written and heartfelt. What happens to a couple when secrets begin to take over their lives?

The Rest of It:

After moving to what Helen believes to be the ideal neighborhood, Tom and Helen raise their daughter and slowly realize that the everyday struggles of work and raising a child have created a slight rift between the two of them. The neighborhood is not what it seems to be and Tom’s relationship with another woman, one that results in another daughter almost the same age as the one he has, forces him to keep the secret long after he intends to.

What an interesting story. It’s told hour-by-hour and all in one day so what we see as a reader is the breaking point, really. The point where Helen and Tom have to come to grips with their reality and it’s not pretty but it’s very honest and very real. As readers we get to share in their regret and their fears. I really enjoyed the writing and the deep looks into each of the main characters. There are no “bad guys” here. Each character is trying his or her best to be the best person they can be. It’s a struggle but not impossible.

Lovely. Small Hours is lovely read with deeply flawed characters and a story that’s told in a quiet but direct way. I recommend it.

For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter. ( )
  tibobi | Aug 16, 2017 |
Small Hours is a wonderful debut novel from Jennifer Kitses. This book shows how relatively minor choices and decisions can snowball until things seem unbearable and overwhelming.

I have seen a couple people who were put off by the ending. If you want your novels brought to complete and total closure you may be disappointed in the ending. I was not bothered by the ending. I feel Kitses presented her characters as such well-rounded human beings that we as readers have a very good idea what happens after the novel ends. With certainty? No. But life holds very few certainties and life's problems rarely, if ever, get wrapped up and tied off with a bow, so the ambiguous ending seems to me to be more realistic than it is disappointing. I like being free to ponder what might happen and how rather than have it all prettied up for me.

While the story takes place over the course of a day we learn a lot about the main characters, and quite a bit about the other characters, in the course of that one day. You will, in turns, dislike, like, empathize with and want to scream at each character. You know, kinda like what you feel about everyone you know. The character development is done through a combination of watching their actions and hearing their thoughts.

While there is not a lot of action you will find yourself on the edge of your seat as the day wears on. Most of their thoughts and actions will seem familiar to you even if you have never given serious consideration to actually following through on them when you had them. In some ways this is like a worst-case scenario of what could happen if we gave in to many of the little thoughts and irritations we all regularly experience.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys watching a train wreck in slow motion. Or more realistically like to read about regular people who, in the course of trying to make their lives better, seem to find themselves moving in the wrong direction on life's escalator. Wonderful characters will make this an enjoyable read for those interested in characterization.

Reviewed from a copy made available through Goodreads First Reads. ( )
  pomo58 | Jul 9, 2017 |
An overview of the life of Tom and Helen is told in between another plot line which describes a 24 hour period in their lives. A period in which every bad decision that could be made by each of these people is made. Both of these people are the most irritating and frustrating characters that ever graced the pages of a book.

Tom is a cheater and a stupid one at that. His "boss", "woman he cheated with" and "mother of his third child" first says she's going to have an abortion and then decides to keep the child, but raise it all on her own. Tom wants to be in the child's life and she says okay. She does not need his financial support, but agrees the child needs a father figure. He neglects his job and his other children to be with this child. Why?

Helen is in the words of Prince "just like my mother, she's never satisfied". She just wants and wants. She's quit her job to freelance and stay home with the children and can't handle it. They have moved to the burbs into a house they can't afford, way overpaid and can't get out of the house without losing a ton of money. All because Helen wanted to. Now, she doesn't like the neighborhood (um, perhaps she should have checked it out instead of just relying on the picture of the house) and wants to move, loss or not.

I spent most of the time while reading this book frustrated because these people, like I said, made every bad choice they could make. While the book was well written (the author certainly had my emotions going) I just could not stand the characters. At all.

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. ( )
  debkrenzer | Jun 21, 2017 |
Small Hours by Jennifer Kitses is a recommended domestic drama.

Helen Nichols and Tom Foster are in their forties and the parents of three-year-old twin daughters. They are regretting some of the decisions they have made, including buying their house in Devon, located in upstate New York. Unfortunately they are now upside-down in their mortgage and can't afford to leave. Tom has a long commute into Queens, while Helen tries to work from home. Neither are happy with the current arrangement. Both are exhausted. Both are stressed out from their jobs. Helen is a seething ball of rage and anger just under the surface. Tom is trying to be a father to the twins as well as another daughter born at the same time, a result of an affair.

Kitses debut novel focuses on an eventful, stressful twenty-four hour period with chapters alternating between the actions of Helen and Tom. Think 24, only focused on a perpetually exhausted, uncommunicative couple who both have work problems, are under paid, underappreciated, make increasingly poor choices, and in a crumbling marriage. But in this scenario there are no cool action scenes and no one is going to save the world, it is just a ticking clock, ever growing weariness, and one mishap and misstep after another.

What saved Small Hours from the quagmire of being simply yet another novel about a marriage falling apart is the excellent writing. While I didn't like either character (And what is this with an increasing number of books where I can not find a sympathetic character because they both have w-a-y too many issues and are in denial?) the quality of the writing does pull the novel out of muck to an at least acceptable level. (It is not to the level of quality of Richard Russo, as per the description.)

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Grand Central Publishing.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2026993673 ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Jun 12, 2017 |
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