Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Pete and Alice In Maine by Caitlyn Shetterly

Pete and Alice In Maine
by Caitlyn Shetterly
256 pages
Published July 2023 by HarperCollins

Publisher's Summary: 
Reeling from a painful betrayal in her marriage as the Covid pandemic takes hold in New York City, Alice packs up her family and flees to their vacation home in Maine. She hopes to find sanctuary—from the uncertainties of the exploding pandemic and her faltering marriage. 

Putting distance between herself and the stresses and troubles of the city, Alice begins to feel safe and relieved. But the locals are far from friendly. Trapped and forced into quarantine by hostile neighbors, Alice sees the imprisoning structure of her life in this new predicament. Stripped down to the bare essentials of survival and tending to the needs of her two children, she can no longer ignore all the ways in which she feels limited and lost—lost in the big city, lost as a wife, lost as a mother, lost as a daughter and lost as a person. 

As the world shifts around her and the balance in her marriage tilts, Alice and her husband, Pete, are left to consider if what keeps their family safe is the same thing as what keeps their family together.

My Thoughts:
This is one of those books that I should have reviewed as soon as I finished it, while my thoughts were still fresh in my head...and I could really remember the details. So, as so often happens these days, this review will be brief. 

What Didn't Work For Me: 
  • The kids. For me, Iris is just too precocious and Sophie is just too angry and allowed to be too rude and mean.
  • Alice...sometimes. She seems terribly unhappy in her live even before the betrayal and the pandemic, but unwilling to do anything to make things better for herself. 
  • I've, thankfully, never been in Alice's position so I can't say how I would react. Still, I found myself irritated with her back and forth in regards to her feelings about Pete. On the other hand, again, I've never been in that position so it might be exactly the way I'd react. 
  • Although the entire book is built around needing to leave NYC because of the pandemic, it never seems to touch the family in any way and Alice never seems to be particularly concerned about the ways it's affecting others. 
What I Liked: 
  • I remember hearing about how many people with second homes left the cities in the early days of the pandemic, but this is the first book I've read that tackles how that might have worked for those people. I appreciated that Alice recognized their privilege. 
  • It took me back to those days when we lived in terrible fear of dying (well, at least a good chunk of the population did). It was easy to believe that the reactions of the local in the book mirrored what a lot of locals felt when the city people began moving into their communities, possibly bringing a deadly disease they might otherwise have avoided, into their neighborhood. 
  • Pete and Alice. They felt well developed, with both a lot to like about them but also plenty of flaws. 
  • I liked the writing, the intimacy of the story. I felt as if I really got to know these characters and got into their heads. 
  • The ending. I knew how I wanted the story to end (given what happens in the book), but Shetterly throws a curveball right at the end that entirely changes what will happen next. I do, almost always, like a book that ends without a clear ending. Life happens in segments that don't always come to neat and tidy endings before the next segment begins. That's what happens here and I like it a lot. 

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