Gina Frangello spent her early adulthood trying to outrun a youth marked by poverty and violence. Now a long-married wife and devoted mother, the better life she carefully built is emotionally upended by the death of her closest friend. Soon, awakened to fault lines in her troubled marriage, Frangello is caught up in a recklessly passionate affair, leading a double life while continuing to project the image of the perfect family. When her secrets are finally uncovered, both her home and her identity will implode, testing the limits of desire, responsibility, love, and forgiveness.
There is pain in every divorce story, but not every divorce story can be related by a narrator as capable as Gina Frangello. Blow Your House Down, Frangello’s raw, eloquent account of the demise of her marriage, is an exemplar of self-reflection, tinged with optimism about the power to recover one’s life from the depth of suffering ... Amid this account of Job-like affliction, Frangello never shirks responsibility for the breakup. Still, casting her ordeal in the form of a trial, she makes a passionate case from an ardently feminist perspective for the rightness of her decision to abandon her husband for 'the man who rewired my heart' and pleads that her effort to rebuild her children’s trust be 'judged by the courts of distance and hindsight'.
... uneven, provocative ... I’m not sure I’ve ever read, much less reviewed, a memoir that has gotten under my skin the way this one has. Just ask my editor. I tried to wriggle out of this review, because I found myself judging Frangello harshly, scribbling notes like OMG and stop and no!! in the margins ... posits itself as a feminist manifesto, and its author veers between the two poles that are the greatest no-no’s in writing about the self: revenge and justification bordering on self-congratulation. She does this in increasingly dizzying recursive loops, arriving again and again at the same descriptions, questions and conclusions, without ever deepening her inquiry. She begins by placing herself and her story into a sociological context, hoping, one can only assume, to enlarge it by association ... With the exception of her children, no one escapes the force of Frangello’s fury, which has the effect of rendering her unreliable. She torques the people in her life into cleverish caricatures ... The literary trouble with rage on the page is that it leaks into everything ... the reader does not wish to be convinced or coerced. The reader wishes to be moved, to feel that powerful sense of empathy and connection that draws us in rather than keeps us on the outside of the crime scene, gawking.
In this raw, red-hot memoir, novelist and editor Frangello’s in-your-face starting point is the fact that she has committed adultery ... She shares her experiences as a wife, mother, parental caregiver, literary professional, and medical patient, of a woman who paints within the lines, until she vividly, wildly doesn’t. How fulfilled is a woman allowed to be? In this gutsy, dramatic feminist manifesto, Frangello recounts the cost of eschewing security to choose the utter necessity of love, of being more tomorrow than she is today.