#aww2021 · 2021 Reviews · contemporary fiction · new release

New Release Book Review: A Home Like Ours by Fiona Lowe

Title: A Home Like Ours

Author: Fiona Lowe

Published: March 5th 2021

Publisher: HQ Fiction – AU

Pages: 576

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 5 stars

A picturesque small town, a cosy community garden, a facade of tolerance and acceptance – but when three women with wildly different loyalties come together, what secrets and lies will be revealed? A timely novel exploring prejudice and privilege, from bestselling Australian author Fiona Lowe.

Tara Hooper is at breaking point. With two young children, a business in a town struggling under an unexpected crime wave, and her husband more interested in his cricket team than their marriage, life is a juggling act. Then, when new neighbours arrive and they are exactly the sort of people the town doesn’t want or need, things get worse.

Life has taught Helen Demetriou two things: being homeless is terrifying and survival means keeping your cards close to your chest. Having clawed back some stability through her involvement in the community garden, she dares to relax. But as she uncovers some shady goings-on in the council, that stability turns to quicksand.

For teenage mother Jade Innes, life can be lonely among the judgement of the town and the frequent absences of her boyfriend. A chance encounter draws her into the endangered community garden where she makes friends for the first time. Glimpsing a different way of life is enticing but its demands are terrifying. Does she even deserve to try?

Can such disparate women unite to save the garden and ultimately stop the town from tearing itself apart?

A timely novel exploring prejudice and privilege, from bestselling Australian author Fiona Lowe.

Review:

‘We don’t shy away from battles. We live them every day.’

Community relations, social problems and the pressures placed on women of any background is passionately presented in A Home Like Ours by Fiona Lowe. Australian author Fiona Lowe is a generous storyteller and she shows us just how powerful her contemporary issue-based stories can be to her readers. A Home Like Ours explores a myriad of conflicts that will ignite a sense of universal togetherness.

A Home Like Ours follows the lives of a small group of women who each have their own set of challenges and pressures.  We meet Tara, a wife and mother who is at crisis point in all aspects of her life. With a faltering marriage, health issues and a business impacted by a recent spate of crime, Tara is a wreck. The arrival of a new set of neighbours adds more pressure to Tara’s life, as the local town is resistant to these new arrivals. Helen Demetriou is another resident of the local community of Boolanga who has seen hard times and continues in her fight to stay afloat. Helen’s involvement in a local community garden is godsend, but when Helen discovers something very unwelcome happening in her local area, she is compelled to take a stand. Meanwhile, a young mother named Jade continues in her daily fight to fend off local community scorn in regards to her situation as a teenage mother. With little support from her wayward boyfriend, Jade finds some unexpected solace in the Boolanga community garden. Can Jade break free from the pressures and judgement placed on her as a young mum? A Home Like Ours reiterates the power of friendship, acceptance, belonging and difference, in this moving new novel from one of Australia’s best storytellers.

This latest composition by one of our country’s most valued contemporary fiction novelists was simply amazing. Fiona Lowe has truly outdone herself with A Home Like Ours and I can honestly say this is her best title to date. I haven’t given away many five-star ratings this year but A Home Like Ours is deserving of each and every one of the five stars I am awarding this book.

A Home Like Ours is a book that spoke to me in so many ways. I am indebted to Fiona Lowe for penning a novel that I could connect with on so many levels. In particular, I connected with one of the lead protagonists of the story, Tara Hooper. When we meet Tara and follow her personal story, we learn that Tara is at utter breaking point. Which confession time, is how I have felt myself this year. A Home Like Ours and the character of Tara came to me at just the right time. Tara’s story was the wake-up call I needed. Tara’s story made me realise that I am not alone in my struggles. The pressures placed on modern women in our current busy society is immense, no wonder we reach breaking point. And that’s ok! Likewise, the character of Helen Demetriou reminded me that we have periods when life is just one big uphill struggle and the daily fight just to survive another day is all that matters. Helen was a remarkable woman and I had so much time for this feature protagonist. I liked the Aussie battler feel Helen’s character gave us, I think it makes this story more connective. We also have Jade Innes, a young teenage mother who made me reflect on my early days as a new mum. Jade’s struggles made me externally grateful that I had the support of my husband, family, friends and community during this pivotal time in my life. Jade is a character who exuded strength and the ability to triumph above adversity. I liked Jade’s tough resolve. My heart also went out to Fiza, a newcomer to Boolanga, who teaches the local township a thing or two about displacement, judgement, acceptance, generosity and resilience. Fiza’s story and the struggles her family face in assimilating into Boolanga offers the reader an opportunity to reflect on their own values, beliefs and world views in relation to those who seem different to us at first glance.

At the core of this tale is the beautiful and welcoming community garden of Boolanga. I loved this place, the garden represented a place of unity, where people of any position can simply get together and experience the natural world free from judgement. The friendships, support systems, level of acceptance, sense of belonging and assistance that comes from this soul nurturing location gave me hope. There are plenty of community tensions and personal conflicts that fill the pages of this very ambitious novel (almost 600 pages in length). Please don’t let the breadth of this novel prevent you from picking it up to read. I promise you, the pages will literally melt away! With themes of illness, personal injury, marriage breakdown, homelessness, poverty, racism, prejudice, disconnection, displacement, resettlement, trust, crime, small town tensions, underhanded activities, new love and friendship, A Home Like Ours is a wonderful hive of activity. I loved being a part of the fabric of this community.

Plenty of gratitude comes from the experience of reading A Home Like Ours by Fiona Lowe. I hope you can dedicate some time to experience all that this truly excellent five star read has to offer.

A Home Like Ours by Fiona Lowe was published on 3rd March 2021 by HQ Fiction – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of A Home Like Ours, Fiona Lowe, visit here.

*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

A Home Like Ours is book #40 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

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