"When Jeffrey's first wife told me he had a voracious appetite for women, I assumed she was just trying to be vindictive."
Over the course of a summer in a wealthy Connecticut community, a forty-something woman and her college-age stepson’s lives fall apart in a series of violent shocks.
Cheryl has never been the right kind of country-club wife. She's always felt like an outsider, and now, in her mid-forties—facing the harsh realities of aging while her marriage disintegrates and her troubled stepson, Teddy, is kicked out of college—she feels cast adrift by the sparkling seaside community of Little Neck Cove, Connecticut. So when Teddy shows up at home just as a storm brewing off the coast threatens to destroy the precarious safe haven of the cove, she joins him in an epic downward spiral.
The Invaders, a searing follow-up to Karolina Waclawiak’s critically acclaimed debut novel, How to Get Into the Twin Palms, casts a harsh light on the glossy sheen of even the most “perfect” lives in America's exclusive beach communities. With sharp wit and dark humor, The Invaders exposes the lies and insecurities that run like fault lines through our culture, threatening to pitch bored housewives, pill-popping children, and suspicious neighbors headlong into the suburban abyss.
Take a look at that first sentence... it says it all. This is a story centered around the rich Connecticut shoreline snobs, the ones who care what others think, nitpick about everything and judge each other with an evil eye. I know people like this, I live and grew up in Connecticut (even if not in the same social class as these characters). Here's the thing, I've heard people complain that these characters are too over the top... well guess what... they really aren't! These people exist... yep. I hear ya, it's kinda depressing, but it's true.
For those of you who haven't read the book, the characters are full of hot air and get all in a huff when their small beach community threatens to be overrun by "tourists". Fortunately, the main character Cheryl didn't grow up in this social circle and has a little disdain for the ridiculous actions of the others. Unfortunately, Cheryl wants to be included in the social circle and this starts to change who she is. We don't get to see much of her past but with some reminiscent chapters, we can tell she came from lower middle working class. Her family is left behind while she gets swept up in her new husband's life. Understandably, the life he shows her is sparkly and new. Little does she know that what she is leaving behind has value, just as much as this new life.
The Invaders is a Tournament of Books pick, and I'm happy it forced me to read this one. I didn't love it, but I certainly didn't hate it (as some others did). I feel the beauty of the book lies within the characters and the reality of this world. There is a place for this story, these people exist and why not write about them? I won't deny that the ending was completely unsatisfying and confusing but the journey was truthful and relatable. This book isn't to be taken as a light beach read... there is real depth here and it's up to the reader to find it.
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