There is a gaudy, newly constructed behemoth of a home in Willard Park. When owner Nick Cox cuts down Allison and Ted Millers’ precious red maple—in an effort to make his unsightly property more appealing to buyers—their once serene town becomes a battleground.
Slams two conflicting ideas of the American Dream smack into each other with both wit and wisdom. Through the clever use of stereotypes--tree huggers, working mothers, popular teens, even drug-addicted lawyers--she examines themes of community and inclusion, delves into the complexities of individuals and their relationships and satirizes the idea of the perfect little town. Readers will likely identify with elements of Langsdorf's outlandish characters--their good intentions, ambition, frustrations, secret desires--while simultaneously laughing along with her at their oddities--mammogram paintings? The dialogue is sharp and a mystery subplot adds a dash of suspense. Entertainment at its best, White Elephant earns a shiny, gold star.
... seems to channel all of the frustrations [Langsdorf] felt juggling her identities as a mother and creator in a stifling suburb ... all smart, satiric fun, the kind of comic novel that helps us see our own foibles while we’re laughing at those of others ... The story does feel perfectly timed, not just in terms of real estate booms, but in the way warring factions sprout up and become stubbornly entrenched. And yet, the comedy of it all softens the ominous undertones.
Langsdorf gleefully skewers small-town stereotypes, such as the sharp and ambitious real-estate agent, the suburban dad hiding a pot habit, and the sorority sister who can’t figure out how she ended up unhappy. But beneath the caricatures are deeper truths about belonging, community, and relationships. In this smartly satirical novel, the raging feud reveals much about the residents’ core values.