by Phyllis Wilson Moore
In Their Houses, the latest novel by West Virginia’s Meredith Sue Willis, the reader meets a conglomeration of people, each easily identifiable: psychotic parents, frightened and bullied children, alcoholics, druggies, born again Christians, criminals, angst ridden teens, rich folk, and just plain folk..
The story opens with three children in grade school: Richie, Dinah, and Grace. At school, Dinah and Grace run interference for chubby Richie, their landlord’s son. They protect him from bullies.
When their psychotic mother gets scary, Richie lets them come to his house. His mother is never there. He has food, toys, and a bedridden father tended by nurses. It’s safe. It’s quiet.
The neglected and frightened children bond through mutual acts of caring and kindness. When adulthood pulls the women away, Richie, now extremely wealthy, want them back. He needs them.
Serendipity, and some scheming on Richie’s part, reunites them in West Virginia. From this point on it’s Katie bar the door! With some fancy technology and Rambo-like action, the three wrestle with adulthood, spouses, rebellious teens, illness, not to mention dastardly crooks.
A master of character development, Willis handles the numerous characters and complicated plot adroitly. Using a pinch of Pocahontas County history, a tad of folk music, and her knowledge of the culture of West Virginia, she creates unexpected situations with lots of humor and just enough sex.
If this is the first in a series, sign me up for the sequel. I like these characters too much to close the book on them.