Home Making by Lee Matalone

Home Making is a somber read, rife with all the richness and weight of the human endeavor towards belongingness.

“What do you think about when you think about home?” is a question at the heart of this exploration of family, love, identity, and the balancing act women make between the beauty of homemaking and its futility.

The novel opens with a glimpse into Cybil’s history—a girl born in the tumult of wartime Japan, whose own identity becomes as alien to herself as the family she is thrust into after being adopted by an American couple from Arizona. Cybil, whose real name is Ayumi, though she will never know this, grows up to be a successful ob-gyn and later gives birth to a daughter named Chloe.

Between furniture shopping, finding the right shade of blue for the guest bedroom, and coming to terms with the reality that her estranged husband is dying of cancer, Chloe tries to maintain a facade of togetherness.

But her new house is far too big for one person, and there is too much emptiness in those rooms than she knows what to do with.

The novel seamlessly interlaces the lives of Cybil, Chloe, and Beau—Chloe’s closest friend and companion who himself is getting acquainted with new love for a man he met online. Supporting Chloe through her grief, Beau is often borne back into his past, back to Southwest Louisiana and the complexities of growing up queer.

Home Making is a somber read, rife with all the richness and weight of the human endeavor towards belongingness.

If you think this book is plain, you’re [probably] right. Although Matalone uses the vocabulary of architecture to propel the narrative forward, her novel is ironically unembellished. It presents itself stark naked in all its raw vulnerability. Home Making features the kind of “ordinary” that is, at times, startling in its plainness. Like a vast desert landscape, it has all the possibilities of being wild, varied, and though obscure, you are certain it is never lifeless.

The magic of Matalone’s novel is there, in between the words, the unobtrusive prose—mingling with your breath before dissipating into the air, it ponders the question, “Where is your place?”

Briefly Noted

Home Making by Lee Matalone

Literary Fiction

208 pages

Home Making is a somber read, rife with all the richness and weight of the human endeavor towards belongingness.

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