Friday, July 11, 2014

Model Home by Eric Puchner

When Warren Ziller moved his family from Wisconsin to the West Coast, he hoped to exchange a comfortable Midwestern life for an even better one in California.  But his wife and children adapted to life in Southern California with varying degrees of success. Seventeen year old Dustin fits right in. He becomes that stereotype of a 1980’s California adolescent: a handsome surfer and garage-band musician. But his brother and sister, eleven year old Jonas and sixteen year old Lyle, don’t fit in quite so well. Warren’s wife, Camille, works for a small film company and tries to maintain a normal family life. But she worries that her husband is keeping a secret from her and that secret is an affair. Warren is keeping a secret from his entire family, but it is not an affair.  His secret is possibly even more destructive. He has risked and lost all the family’s wealth on a failed housing development in the desert. While the family struggles with their problems, big and small, an actual tragedy occurs: their gated-community house explodes and Dustin is badly injured and disfigured. Within a year they are the only family living in Warren’s failed development, forced there by poverty. Eventually they adjust to their new circumstances, but the family cannot hold together. Model Home by Eric Puchner shows a family broken by mistakes and bad luck.  It can happen to anyone.