There’s always such an interesting tension between the poor and the rich. Especially when there is a huge discrepancy between the two–and especially when the poor can only survive by working for the very rich.
The East End is Jason Allen’s debut novel. Previously, he has published a work of poetry, A Meditation on Fire. He seems like a pretty cool guy. He grew up working class poor in the Hamptons–just like his main character Corey–has traveled across the US several times, has taught in China and has some pretty bad ass tats up his arms.
I can only assume that he drew some of his inspiration for the character of Corey from his own experiences coming of age among the rich. And I really want to know more about that! I need to start looking these authors up before I read the books, because that’s a really cool connection.
So what did I think? Read on!
From the Publisher:
Corey Halpern, a local high schooler with a troubled home life, is desperate to leave the Hamptons and start anew somewhere else. His last summer before college, he settles for the escapism he finds in sneaking into neighboring mansions.
One night just before Memorial Day weekend, he breaks in to the wrong home at the wrong time: the Sheffield estate, where he and his mother, Gina, work. Under the cover of darkness, Leo Sheffield—a billionaire CEO, patriarch and the owner of the vast lakeside manor—arrives unexpectedly with a companion. After a shocking poolside accident, everything depends on Leo burying the truth before his family and friends arrive for the holiday weekend. Unfortunately for him, Corey saw what happened, as did other eyes in the shadows.
Secrecy, obsession and desperation dictate each character’s path in this spectacular debut. In a race against time, each critical moment holds life in the balance as Corey, Gina and Leo approach a common breaking point. With an ending as explosive as the Memorial Day fireworks on the island, The East End welcomes a bright new voice in fiction.
Corey gets his thrills by breaking into the mansions on the Hamptons. He doesn’t steal per say, he more explores and leaves a small mark on the house. It’s really more of an F&%# you to the rich folks who don’t know how good they really have it.
So on the night before Memorial Day weekend, when Corey and his mom will return to work for the Sheffields, a family made up of spoiled children, a power-hunger wife and a sometimes absent workaholic husband, he breaks into their house to stick it to the man.
Of course he doesn’t realize that not one, but two family members have decided to come to the Hampton’s early. So more than one person witnesses the grisly accident that occurs. The book started out with so much promise. I loved the set-up. But then for me, it fell a little flat.
I had a hard time grasping the character Gina, Corey’s mom. I think she is supposed to be attractive, but an alcoholic and addicted to painkillers or sleeping pills. She is trying to get out of an abusive marriage, but lacks the common sense to just be done with it. I think I was supposed to like her or feel empathy, but she just annoyed me.
Corey has the ability to be a great character, but I felt he was a bit underdeveloped. I got that he was supposed to be a rough around the edges, but cute local. I don’t think that the rich girls would avoid him. I think that’s exactly the type of guy they like to date to get their daddy’s attention.
Then the conflict itself was just so drawn out. Maybe I watch too much Scandal, but I feel like the privileged have people to clean up their messes. And I think Leo is important enough that his mess would have been taken care of halfway through the book by just placing a call to the right person.
The East End was not my favorite, but I’m intrigued by Jason Allen. And it didn’t seem like the prose was written by a poet and scholar, and it makes me wonder, how much the book changed during the editing process.
Special thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin Park Row for an advanced e-galley of the book. I’m always excited to try a new author and I’m looking forward to what Allen will write next. This one releases May 7, 2019.
Get your copy: