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BLOW YOUR HOUSE DOWN by Gina Frangello


A Story of Family, Feminism, and Treason

by Gina Frangello

Pub Date: April 6th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-64009-316-4
Publisher: Counterpoint

In a debut memoir, a novelist presents her life-altering affair in unsparing detail.

Addressing her readers as "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury," Frangello invites us to join her in a meticulous examination of the background of—and possible justifications for—a midlife infidelity. Her best friend's death was the immediate cause of her emotional disorientation, but there were also the issues of her husband's temper, her coming-of-age in a neighborhood where girls and women were routinely mistreated, her absorption of more secondhand trauma in her job as a counselor, and her anxiety about reliving her mother's sexless marriage. Frangello pulls apart these and other rationalizations even as she presents them, including the suggestion "that my internalized fear of men was extreme enough to make me…confuse a man whose heart I shattered…with O.J. Simpson, with the weekly predators on Law and Order and Criminal Minds, with the men of my old neighborhood.” Before her first weekend with her lover, the author "had never burned a man before…never clipped a wrist cuff to a thigh cuff…never known intimacy so beyond the domain of ego or language.” As she explains, it was precisely this intimacy that caused her to "question everything I ever understood regarding how to be Normal, how to be Good." When her twin 12-year-old daughters learned about her affair from reading texts on her phone, she had them keep it from their father for three years. Her husband’s life, she writes, “forged on, now with three members of his family holding knowledge to which he had no access.” Later in the narrative, referring to a gag order she refused to sign at the time of her divorce, Frangello writes, “perhaps you empathize with my husband's desire that I should be silenced.” Though the author hopes her candor will be helpful to other women—and it may be—reader sympathy may be hard to come by.

A furious expiation that takes every risk it can find.