Read Or Run: A Review Of The Couple Next Door By Shari Lapena

Read Or Run: A Review Of The Couple Next Door By Shari Lapena

A harrowing tale of a stolen baby or a flop of a mystery novel? You decide.
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Recently, I joined a book club. Why? I don't know, but I did it and I read the book — kind of.

"The Couple Next Door" is an extremely well-reviewed book by Shari Lapena. I thought it was going to be a mystery novel like something out of Agatha Christie with Hercule Poirot. Let me tell you, Detective Rasbach is no Poirot.

This will contain spoilers.

Lapena sets up the scene immediately, right out the gate. I feel like the first few pages are incredibly overwhelming with their direct-action scenes. The main character is drinking. She's looking, feeling, touching, observing. The reader doesn't have much time to drink in the scene and get a grasp on where she is and why she's there. It's, in the ever immortal words of Teen Mom, too much too soon. We don't get to fully grasp what's happening between the post-pregnancy character of Anne Conti.

I hate to attribute her recent pregnancy as her only characteristic but, unfortunately, that's what Lapena makes the center of her universe. But that's normal for new moms and probably the only relatable thing about this entire character.

Anne and her husband, Marco Conti, are a young couple living in New York with a six-month-old baby girl named Cora. They're at their next-door neighbor's house, Cynthia and Graham, having a dinner party for Graham's birthday. Cynthia had requested that the Contis leave their baby behind as the crying would interrupt their dinner. When a babysitter unexpectedly cancels, Marco somehow convinces the brand-new helicopter mom that is was okay to leave their baby home alone. Somehow. He also convinces her that it's a good idea to drink. And that they should take turns every 30 minutes to check on Cora rather than ask Cynthia if they can just bring Cora with them.

Whatever. Super relatable.

After Marco and Anne have a fight without actually having a fight (a feat every couple somehow manages to learn), they turn around and head home, sufficiently drunk, to their front door unlocked and left open.

"Maybe you forgot to lock it, you've had a lot to drink," Marco says to Anne while the audience wants to hit him. What a particularly terrible thing to say. Of course, I think it's a particularly terrible to be new parents to a six-month-old baby and to leave her and home while getting drunk but, what do I know? I'm not a parent.

The couple discover their daughter is missing and run frantically about the house looking for her. For some inexplicable reason, Lapena has Anne hit their bathroom mirror and break it. This action isn't sufficiently explained, or explained at all.

Before the readers can really get into the heads of the Conti's and watch them unravel, the police are on the scene and it switches to the viewpoint of the Detective Rasbach.

Rasbach is one of those characters that is so little described, he seems like a prop. There are no descriptions about him, really. The readers don't get a sense of who he is and what he's about. In some novels, this allows the readers to step in and fill the shoes of the detective; in a way, these novels break down the fourth wall. Unfortunately, this is not Lapena's specialty. Her lack of characterization of Rasbach makes him cold and impersonal — and not in the same way that detectives such as Sherlock Holmes is cold and impersonal.

The best way to describe Rasbach's investigation is dull. He talks to old friends, he talks to neighbors, he talks to potential witnesses. The whole thing reads like a police procedural manual. He suspects the husband and wife because the wife has postpartum depression and the husband owns a business. The husband is a suspect because he owns a business. The police don't know the financial records of said business until after they already suspect the husband.

Backwards.

After about reading a third of the way through the book, I found my attention slipping. I knew that A, B and C would happen and then we would see X result. Then, three chapters later, A, B and C would happen again and then X would, yet again be the result.

One thing I think is the mark of a good book is if you skip forward far enough, you have no idea what's going on. I tried this trick with "The Couple Next Door" and found that not only did I still understand what was going on, I hadn't really missed any information. So, I skipped to the end and found that I still understood all of it.

If this novel had ended with an examination of why parents may make what we perceive to be dumb decisions as non-parents and how one small mistake can upend lives, that would have possibly redeemed the entire novel. But, alas, it didn't. The last three pages were a completely out of context, over the top, you-can-see-it-a-mile-away type ending.

All in all, this book had some good points. The foundation was laid well, but the walls were just built kind of funky.

Of course, Anne's parents happen to be millionaires that can afford to pay $5 million and then an extra $2 million in ransom for their grandchild. Of course, Cynthia likes to flirt with every many she sees. Of course, Marco's small business is in trouble. Of course Anne's parent's hate Marco. There's just so many "of course" moments while reading this novel.

I just didn't think the actions of the Contis or Richard, the step-father, were relatable in any form. Who gives a baby to someone they've known for, what, three days? A loon. If Marco had gotten a friend to help him with his scheme at least that would have been believable.

They never even explain why the accomplice was killed.

I would rate "The Couple Next Door" three out of ten stars and I don't feel bad about it.

Cover Image Credit: Love What You Read

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75 Last-Minute College Halloween Costume Ideas

To all the procrastinators out there: I got you.
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Halloween is only a few days away and is a time to have fun getting dressed up as practically anything you want to be. This year, the college gods have blessed us by putting Halloween on a Saturday and if you’re not a freshman, you know what that means: two nights of fun and two different costumes!

SEE ALSO: 11 Feminist Halloween Costumes You Don't Need Cleavage To Feel Sexy In

Now if you obsess over Halloween like I do, you probably plan your costume months in advance and wait around until it’s finally time to wear it. Kudos to your crafty self for not procrastinating! But maybe you’re more of a last-minute type of person who scrambles to find a costume the day before Halloween. Or maybe you’re the type of person who wears normal street clothes when you go out on Halloween because you “couldn’t think of anything.” Here are 70 worthy costume options I’ve seen throughout this year's picking process that I would love to see people sporting on Saturday. Feel free to adapt any of these ideas and make them your own!



1. Ginger Bread Man

If you're a red head and I see you dressed like this, I'm buying you a drink.





2. Brawny Man


Nothing's manlier than paper towels.







3. Rosie The Riveter

Girl power.


4. Elmer’s Glue

People will be stuck on you all night!





5. Ned Flanders




6. Ceiling Fan




7. Laziest of the Lazy

Even this is better than wearing no costume at all.






8. Regina George






9. Beanie Baby

How to do it: dress up as any animal you want and wear a paper TY sign around your neck. Easy!




10. Heisenberg

Or, even better, if you happen to own a burger suit, wear it with the hat and glasses and be Heisenburger.




11. When Life Hands You Lemons

Lazy, cheap, and clever. What can be better?




12. Dancing Twins Emoji




13. Bank Emoji




14. Nudist On Strike

Nothing says lazy and last-minute like this!




15. Margarita






16. Franzia

And yes, that is me sophomore year.




17. Sim Getting Out of the Shower

18. Strawberry



Red dress + paper cutouts = this sweet costume!




19. Pineapple

A yellow dress and green paper is all you need!



20. M&Ms


21. Wayne & Garth

Party time! Excellent!




22. Blue & Steve

23. Dora the Explorer

Just please don't make it slutty.




24. Hot Rod


25. Game Boy






26. Reggie Rocket




27. Ace Ventura






28. Energizer Bunny

Keep the party going!

29. Crayon




30. Sriracha

Add a little spice to everyone's night.


31. Dilbert

32. Dexter and His Victim


33. Spice Rack

At least one person might think it's funny?

34. Bamm Bamm & Pebbles


35. Curious George & The Man in the Yellow Hat



AKA one of the cutest things I've seen in a while.





36. Ice Cream Cone







37. Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy



What's better than wearing slippers all night?





38. Lilo and Stitch







39. Kermit the Frog







40. Blair and Serena

XOXO, Gossip Girl.





41. Cat & Dog

For you and your inseparable friend.


42. Spongebob & Patrick


43. Damien from Mean Girls









44. Teletubbies









45. Deviled Egg







46. Pacman Ghost





47. Clueless





48. Miss Universe

Just wear galaxy print and a homemade sash!





49. Cereal Killer







50. Almond Joy and Mounds


Relationship goals amirite?





51. Tom Hanks and Wilson from Castaway







52. Most Interesting Man in the World and Dos Equis







53. Bud Light Year





54. Drunk 1 and Drunk 2




Just be honest with everyone.



55. Pinata


I wouldn't recommend wearing this if it's supposed to rain. I learned that lesson the hard way freshman year.


56. Ash and Pikachu




57. Cruella De Ville and Dalmatian



58. Loofah


Bonus: it doubles as something to sleep on in case you don't make it to your bed.



59. Beer



60. Troll Doll


Your childhood nightmares turned into a costume.



61. Garth & Kat from SNL




62. Target Lady from SNL




63. Moaning Myrtle




64. Death Eater




65. Napoleon Dynamite Characters




66. Taco Bell Sauce Packets




67. Candy Corn



68. Solo Cup





69. Gum Ball Machine




70. Skeleton




71. Cuzco from Emperor's New Groove




72. Darla from Finding Nemo




73. T.J. and Spinelli from Recess




74. Kim Possible


Call me, beep me, if you wanna reach me.



75. Russell & Mr. Fredrickson from "Up"




There you go! Now you have 75 potential costume options, so if you still go out in normal clothes, you'll have to tell people the real reason you're not dressed up: you're lazy. I hope these inspire at least someone and I'd love to see these being rocked this weekend!


Happy Halloween!

Cover Image Credit: http://www.technologytell.com/entertainment/files/2013/10/Costumes-Cats_06.jpg

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Poetry On Odyssey: The Brightest Smile Holds The Darkest Meaning

Don't smile at me unless your intentions are good. And by the way, I know they aren't. And they never will be.

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Every time I see you,

I always catch my breath.

And have to fight the feelings,

That still rise in my chest.

I have to divert my eyes,

And I force myself to forget.

Pretend you don't exist,

And force myself to breathe.

But sometimes when I see you,

You smile.

At me.

And every time you smile,

I stop breathing.

Not enough to pass out,

But enough to gasp for air…

Before I limply fall to the ground.

How can you smile at me?

Is it a pity smile, or a sorry smile?

Or a meaningless smile,

Like you would smile at a complete stranger?

That's what is has to be.

And when you smile at me,

And when I stop breathing,

Because you smile at me,

I remember.

I remember that you don't smile much.

Pictures rarely show you smiling.

But I also remember,

When you used to smile,

When you were with me.

When your smile was because of me,

And when you smiled at me.

The smile that lit up your whole face.

The smile that made those beautiful eyes of yours sparkle.

The smile that creates the crevasse of your dimple.

The smile that made my heart flip-flop.

The smile of happiness.

But you plod along in your life,

Void of passion, motivation or drive.

You do what is expected of you.

Without smiling.

And I do the same.

And sometimes I almost forget,

That you know how to smile.

But I have proof.

In every single picture of us,

In every single picture of you,

When you were with me...

You ARE smiling.

That smile.

A genuine, happy smile.

And you were smiling at me.

You were smiling with me.

And you were smiling because of me.

But before its too late,

And before the time comes that I can't find the strength,

The strength to force myself to breathe,

I beg you...

Please don't smile at me.

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