Dad of Divas' Reviews: Book Review - American Suite

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Book Review - American Suite

About the Book
What woman wasn’t mortified when Lorena Bobbit hacked off her husband’s manhood as he slept or watched in horror as dentist Clara Harris drove her Mercedes over her philandering husband!  Women in general understand that no matter how horrific these deeds, they can relate to the pain inflicted by a philandering husband.  They are done with the lying memoirs and celebrity tales that mainly occupy the best-sellers list and crave something down-to-earth and real; something that captures the zaniness of real life in America today.  American Suite is just such a book.

Sheets’s novel comprises the diaries of three women from an affluent, Protestant family; Arisa, Sophie and Rosalyn, whose perspectives often clash and whose diary entries frequently contradict one another.  Arisa’s story is the central plot of American Suite.  Single, in her mid-thirties and excited about a new life as a writer in the Flatlands, she has ditched her career in  Manhattan along with her longtime partner, Ben, and severed ties to her widowed mother and married sister on the East Coast.

At the mercy of her romantic passions, she falls in love with the first male Flatlander she meets just days after arriving in the Midwest, only to find he has a wife and two children. Following a brief but disastrous visit from Ben, Arisa seeks therapy.  Life gets worse when she visits New York over Christmas; family problems, finding that Ben has a new love, and an anxiety attack after visiting Ground Zero all force Arisa back to the Flatlands before fleeing to Schlectenberg where she falls in love with a screenwriter and Hollywood director.  This lasts until she finds out he has filmed their debauched relationship as material for his new movie, Legs Wide Open! After absconding with the director’s Doberman and a short retreat in a monastery, she returns to the Flatlands determined to tell her version of the affair in her memoir, Shrill Quills & Broken Lenses: This Muse Bares All.  From this point on, as Arisa’s life gets nuttier, the story just gets more hilarious as she falls in love with an ex-con and sicks the Doberman on a stalking Peeping Tom who loses his “family jewels” to the Doberman’s iron jaws and has them reattached later by a surgeon.

Rosalyn and Sophie’s stories are interwoven all the while with Arisa’s, and the reader catches up with Sophie’s life as her husband loses his job and Sophie lusts after her son’s tutor.  When Sophie’s sons embrace conflicting religions, sailing becomes the family hobby as a means of creating some kind of unity until the boat gets damaged during a race.  The sisters decide to celebrate a multicultural December holiday in New York along with Arisa’s ex-con lover, Roy.  It turns out to be a huge disaster, but one that glitters nevertheless.  Sophie’s diary ends as she embarks on her own ‘memoir,’ Sophie’s Seven Simple Steps to the Perfect Life.

Last, but definitely not least, is Rosalyn’s story. From her diary, readers learn she is a Jewish mother whom God has challenged by making her Christian.  We share in her pain as she loses her husband of forty-four years and her joy when she finds Saul, her new partner and love of her life; her anger when she is discarded by her children and her devastation when Saul dies.  Inconsolable in her grief, she decides to convert to Judaism and writes her memoir, The Hadassah Chronicles.

The novel concludes with the Peeping Tom seeking revenge for the loss of his virility.  He breaks into Arisa’s house where he sees newspaper articles about their scandalous altercation. Arisa returns. Shots are fired. Television viewers are urged to stay tuned for the latest breaking news. Thus, we get a glimpse of today’s American family.  Not perfect, but thriving despite its dysfunction. American Suite is a zany, poignant saga that rejoices in the strength and resilience of these three strong women and revels in the complexity of life’s journey.

My Take on the Book
This story is a page-turner and one that will keep you on the edge of your seat from the beginning of the story to the very end. One of the things that I liked most were the characters that the author shared with the reader. These characters held so many human qualities that will make you both empathize and relate to them in so many ways.

There are many humorous parts within the story, some in which had me rolling. Beyond this though is an underlying story that intertwines love, drama, sadness, and tender understanding. The book was full of intricacies of family life, insights into relationships, spirituality and diverse thought. 

Overall, though a complex story, this was one that I would highly recommend this book to any and all!

All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company.  Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site's Disclaimer  for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.  
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