How does one fall in love and commit to anyone when everything in one’s experience shouts that nothing works? Nothing lasts?
Joanna Robinson has been flailing about, trying new places to live and new careers, and then she lands in Portland, Oregon, staying at first in her sister Laura’s laundry room/closet, until she finally finds an apartment. The description of the apartment as sparse and bare were understatements. It sounded grim.
Joanna’s ideas about love and relationships might have been born of her childhood experiences with divorced parents. But must the children of divorce be so afraid, so cynical?
Malcolm Martin is the friend of Ted, Laura’s fiancé, whom Laura marries shortly after the book begins. Malcolm leaves for the Peace Corps almost immediately after he and Joanna meet, and they write letters to one another. But what happens when he returns? Are they together, or are they just friends?
Finally Joanna buys a house, but it is also grim…until she and Malcolm arrive at an agreement to live together as friends, and he will help fix it up.
Broken Homes and Gardens tugged at my heartstrings…who wouldn’t root for Joanna and Malcolm, even though they seem to be their own worst enemies? When others enter the canvas and insert themselves between them, will they succeed? Or will Joanna and Malcolm arrive at some “When Harry Met Sally” moment? I really enjoyed seeing inside Joanna’s head and trying to understand how she arrived at her decisions.
Sometimes her choices seemed a little off the wall, but her quirkiness was fun. In the end, there were some predictable moments, but on the way to the denouement, I wasn’t entirely sure how things would turn out, which made the journey satisfying. 4 stars.