I said delightfully different. This story is told from seven points of view. And it works.
I fell in love with Celia and Mark, Hope and Leo, Chris and Stephanie, and the odd-woman-out, Nikki.
The three couples create a new modern family by taking down the walls between their row houses in Philadelphia. The upstairs of their homes remain private. The downstairs becomes one living space where Leo can indulge his passion for cooking and Hope can care for the children while Stephanie and Celia go to work. The children have no problem accepting the new situation, but what will their neighbors do if they find out what they’ve done? And the ending? You’ll have to decide for yourself. Bravo, to the two authors Elizabeth LaBan and Melissa DePino. This is their first collaborative work. I look forward to others.
On a cozy street in Philadelphia, three neighboring families have become the best of friends. They can’t imagine life without one another—until one family outgrows their tiny row house. In a bid to stay together, a crazy idea is born: What if they tear down the walls between their homes and live together under one roof? And so an experiment begins.
Celia and Mark now have the space they need. But is this really what Celia’s increasingly distant husband wants? Stephanie embraces the idea of one big, happy family, but has she considered how it may exacerbate the stark differences between her and her husband, Chris? While Hope always wanted a larger family with Leo, will caring for all the children really satisfy that need?
Behind closed doors, they strive to preserve the closeness they treasure. But when boundaries are blurred, they are forced to question their choices…and reimagine the true meaning of family.
“A skilled, funny, and highly engaging examination of family, love, and marriage…This book is a win.” —Meg Mitchell Moore, author of The Admissions
POPSUGAR Best Book of Winter Selection
“LaBan and DePino pen an engrossing work, rife with real familial and marital issues…This duo is one to watch. An excellent choice for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner.” —Booklist, Starred Review
Elizabeth and Melissa, how did you two meet?:
EL: We met the day Melissa moved onto our small city street. I remember walking over to her to say hello. My daughter, who is now 17, was about a year old. I remember I was holding her to my hip when I walked over. Little did we know at that moment how important we would become to each other over the years.
MD: Before we moved in, the couple that sold us the house gave us the low-down on all of the neighbors. I remember them telling us that a celebrity lived a few doors down—it turned out to be Elizabeth’s husband, who’s the restaurant critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer and an amazing cook. But it wasn’t her husband’s cooking that brought us together (although that never hurt!). It was Elizabeth who we met first, and it was her warmth that made us instant friends.
I love firsts, so could you each tell us about the moment when your publisher told you they wanted to publish your first book together?:
EL: Yes! It was our agent Uwe Stender, actually, who told us, which is pretty standard. I remember it was a Wednesday because I was teaching my writing class, and I walked outside to take his call. I always jump a little when he calls, hoping he has some good news, and that day I was especially eager to hear what he had to say. It was really cold and I hadn’t thought to grab my jacket, but I didn’t care. We weren’t sure how it was going to work out, so when he called to say our wonderful editor Jodi Warshaw wanted to publish the book, I was thrilled. We were both thrilled.
MD: What a moment! Elizabeth had amazing restraint because our agent called her first, and she waited and let him call me. When he called, I wasn’t expecting the news because of where we were in the process of shopping it to publishers. I literally sat down on my sofa and started crying. We had been working on the novel over the span of many years, and at that moment, I just couldn’t believe that it was actually happening!
What have been the most exciting moments, so far, in your writing careers?
EL: I always think seeing the cover of the book is one of the most exciting parts of this whole process. With my previous books that was a great moment—it is when the book really becomes a book—and this time it was just as exciting. Also, I love holding the finished copy in my hands, which I have not had the pleasure to do yet with Pretty Little World, but I can’t wait!
MD: I think the most exciting moments for me have been when Elizabeth and I talk about whatever novel we’re working on. It’s just so fun to create these characters’ lives together. Recently, I came up with a subplot for our next novel while I was walking through our neighborhood. I called her immediately because I knew she would love it. She always takes an idea and stretches it and gets me even more excited about the writing process.
How did you divide up the task of writing this book together?
MD: We did it chapter by chapter for the first draft. We always talked about the general direction of the story and the lives of the characters, but then we were on our own to write. I wrote the first chapter (which was edited and changed more times than I can count by us both!), then Elizabeth took the next one. She had the honor (and challenge) of writing the last chapter. We decided the general direction that it would go together, but she gave it life. The funny thing is that we still believe different things about what happens to the characters after it ends.
How did you enjoy the collaboration adventure?
EL: I love it. It is the best way to write a novel, I think. There are so many moments when I get stuck or I’m not sure what to write next, what would one character or another do? And at that point I can pass the book to Melissa, who will write a chapter and move the story forward in a way I might never have thought of. I am just finishing a book I’m writing alone, and it has been fun and I do like hanging out with the characters, but there were many times I wished I could just hand it over to Melissa and have her do her magic and then send it back to me. I can’t wait to jump into our next book together.
What are your favorite pastimes, other than writing?
EL: I love to read and take walks. I crochet. I spend a lot of time with my two teenage kids and my husband. We love exploring restaurants. But truthfully, writing is by far how I spend most of my time.
MD: I have a branding and marketing business that specializes in non-profits—schools, healthcare, arts, and culture. I am a curious person by nature and just love spending time getting to know my clients and figuring out how to verbally articulate their brands—so I guess I spend much of my time writing, too! I also spend lots of time with my two teenage boys, see a lot of live music, and travel as much as I can. I am a big fan of music festivals and try to get to a few every year.
Thank you both for being here and indulging my curiosity.
Elizabeth and Melissa graciously gave me a paperback copy of Pretty Little World to give away.
Enter below. Happy reading