Wednesday, June 18, 2008

READING: All The Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling Down House

I made one of my bi-weekly forages into the local bookstore the other day. It seems I get a rather peculiar itch when I haven't read a book in the last 72 hours. In order to assauge the longing that overcomes me, I regularly pillage my own bookshelves and those of family and friends and neighbors and people I barely know as well as the shelves of the local bookstore.

I know what I like. Or at least what I like at the moment: Nonfiction. Memoir. A bit gritty. A lot of heart. And something for me to really chew on.

All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House

Fortunately, last week, I happened across this book by David Giffels, a journalist in Ohio, about a journey he undertook 10 years ago with his wife when they purchased a decrepit, condemned, old mansion and spent the next several years turning it into a home while raising a family.

I liked the book so much, I now want to buy my own falling-down mansion and rebuild it.

Giffels and his wife bought the house for 1/3 of its original value and then had to evict racoons, spiders, termites, squirrels and birds from its rafters. In the first thirty days that he owned the home, he had to install a new roof, new plumbing, new electricity and a new heater so that they could live in the house. He then spends the next few years fixing every entrance, every floor and every wall. Not one surface in the home has not been damaged by years and years of neglect.

The tension comes as we watch this young father with limitless energy and workaholic attributes try to build a nest for his growing family while spending less and less time with them. He spends so much time away from them and absorbed in this project of rebuilding that his family begins to suffer. He thought he was going to shape a home for his family but the house actually begins to shape him. He is so obsessed that one night his pregnant wife pleads with him to just sit with her for a little while and leave the house alone for one night. He can't bring himself to do it. As she drifts off to sleep he tiptoes out their bedroom door and downstairs to work on the house for several more hours. Eventually he has to decide which means more to him: the house or his family?

It's a good read. It wasn't deeply intellectual or highly spiritual or even particularly emotional, but I just loved it. The high drama for me was watching someone work and work and work to make a dream a reality and doing it for all the right reasons.

I could use some of that kind of drama in my life.

1 comment:

L&H&Q&E said...

So maybe that's why we're a happy family -- we bought an endlessly needy fixer-upper! :) Thanks for the tip on this book; I'll check it!


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