Today I have a review of House on Fire by Bonnie Kistler, publishing via Atria Books on March 12, 2019.
House on Fire is a tense, emotional family drama. Leigh Huyett is a divorce lawyer, and she knows better than anyone how easily marriages fail. She’s five years into her second marriage with Pete, and they are beating the odds. Their blended family is what many would aspire to.
Leigh and Pete are out for the night celebrating their anniversary, while they left Kip, Pete’s biological son, in charge of Chrissy, Leigh’s daughter.
As Leigh and Peter drive home on a rainy night, their phones blow up. Kip has been out for the night at a big party celebrating, and he crashes his car on the way home…with Chrissy inside. Chrissy later passes away, and Kip is charged with manslaughter.
You can imagine the conflicted feelings Leigh must be working through. At first, she sides with Kip and Pete, until Kip changes the story. He says that Chrissy was driving, and there a witness to that fact. Leigh believes he’s lying; Pete believes his son and continues to back him. All the while, Pete and Leigh must walk the tightrope that is their marriage as they navigate their feelings about Kip and what happened, along with the grief and loss of Chrissy’s passing.
How does it all end for Kip? And will Pete and Leigh’s marriage survive this tumultuous time?
Overall, I found House on Fire to be immersive and psychologically engaging. This is not a “thriller,” but it is fantastic at what it is: a study on family, and a blended family in particular. The topics make you question your own morality and what you would you do if you were Pete- or Leigh. It also left me thinking about these characters long after I turned the last page.
I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
In the bestselling tradition of Jodi Picoult and Celeste Ng, a tightly wound and suspenseful novel about a blended family in crisis after a drunk driving accident leaves the daughter of one parent dead—and the son of the other parent charged with manslaughter.
Divorce lawyer Leigh Huyett knows all too well that most second marriages are doomed to fail. But five years in, she and Pete Conley have a perfectly blended family of her children and his. To celebrate their anniversary, they grab some precious moments of alone time and leave Pete’s son Kip, a high school senior, in charge of Leigh’s fourteen-year-old daughter Chrissy at their home.
Driving back on a rainy Friday night, their cell phones start ringing. After a raucous party celebrating his college acceptance to Duke and his upcoming birthday, Kip was arrested for drunk driving after his truck crashed into a tree. And he wasn’t alone—Chrissy was with him.
Twelve hours later, Chrissy is dead and Kip is charged with manslaughter.
Kip has always been a notorious troublemaker, but he’s also a star student with a dazzling future ahead of him. At first, Leigh does her best to rally behind Pete and help Kip through his ordeal. Until he changes his story, and claims that he wasn’t driving after all—Chrissy was, and he swears there is a witness.
Leigh is stunned that he would lie about such a thing, while Pete clutches onto the story as the last, best hope to save his son, throwing his energy and money into finding this elusive witness. As they hurtle toward Kip’s trial date, husband and wife are torn between loyalty to their children and to each other, while the mystery of what really happened that night intensifies.
This richly conceived and tightly plotted psychological exploration of family and tragedy will have you racing toward its shocking and thought-provoking conclusion.
Have you read House on Fire, or is it on your TBR? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR