The Children’s House
Publisher: Random House
A wealthy Jewish couple moves into a brownstone house in Harlem once occupied by a community of elderly nuns. The couple, Marina and Jacob, arrive at the house with complex and troubling personal histories, each escaping a past that neither wants to recollect or resolve. Jacob’s young son Ben is dealing with his own abandonment, and Rwandan refugee Constance and her child Gabriel, are drawn into this family’s circle of uneasy hope. This novel is as much about families dealing with their collective pasts as it is about the larger issues of homelessness caused by violence, genocide and social experimentation. Beautifully written in a gentle, reflective style, The Children’s House is also intelligent and fierce as it tackles the tricky terrain of religion, culture, parenthood and privilege. Alice Nelson is a thoughtful and lyrical writer, and this is a shining, generous novel that responds to questions of appropriation with beauty and wisdom.