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Small Hours by Jennifer Kitses

Small Hours

by Jennifer Kitses

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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 |
The entire book covers 24 hours in the marriage of Tom and Helen. They are the parents of three-year-old twins and have recently moved from Queens to a small town on the Hudson River. Helen is working from home and is finding it stressful finding enough time to manage work, home and children. Tom commutes to his job at a news wire service. They have come into some financial difficulties and have been less than honest and upfront with each other so things start to unravel.

This is one of those books where everyday events can lead to a powerful punch. The author expertly rackets up the suspense as Tom and Helen’s day proceeds. I’ve been trying not to rely too much on advertising blurbs and comparisons but I think the publisher’s comparisons to Richard Russo and Tom Perrotta are very close. I cared about Tom and Helen and I kept wishing they would just sit down and talk things out instead of trying to handle their difficulties on their own. It was obvious they cared about each other. The suspense comes into play because you’re just not sure how far the author is going to take the story and you can only sit and watch in dread as the hours go by. I found Tom and Helen’s story to be realistic and believable and I very much enjoyed the time spent with them.

I did find the section involving Tom’s work place to be a bit slow and that was my least favorite part of the book, though at times it was humorous. Maybe that’s because I’m retired and really don’t want to spend any time at “work”, even in a book. I could certainly feel Tom’s frustration there.

This is the author’s debut novel and I’m very interested to see where she heads next.


This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review. ( )
  hubblegal | May 29, 2017 |
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