White Elephant: A Novel
White Elephant follows a community on the brink. The Millers are living in the suburban town of Willard Park; their wealthier neighbor, Nick Cox, who is living in a “behemoth” of a house, is trying to move. The story opens with Allison and Ted Miller who have been woken up for the umpteenth time by Nick hammering away at his own property in an attempt to make it more appealing to potential buyers. Tensions are at their peak, and when Nick cuts down a red maple on the Miller’s property, it all comes crumbling down. The story follows the Miller family as they go through their everyday lives and juggle their personal problems with that of the rest of the world. As Langdorf steadily pokes fun at the plight of the Miller family, particularly in regard to the way they deal with their suburban problems, eat their organic food (even though what the really want is the opposite) and lust over lifestyles that are not their own, she also deftly expands the story to touch on the lives of other families in the community and explores issues of the current political moment, love and marriage, and what it means to grow up. With precise prose, lively characters, and a careful balance of humor and emotional impact, Langsdorf depicts life in Willard Park as a community at distinct odds with its citizens in a way that’s perfect for fans of Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest.
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