Shelly Means is easy to relate to. All she wants is a beach house—in the Hamptons, with a heated pool, a Japanese toilet, and a bunch of other amazing things that she's curated on a vision board. When reality sets in, Shelly pares down her vision to match her actual life, which includes therapist bills for some anger-management issues and a voice-over artist husband who is suddenly having trouble finding work. So what if the beach house is built from shipping containers, on a tick-infested lot in a less desirable neighborhood? In the Means family (as for most of us), the financial means don't always match the vision. But Shelly forges forward, buoyed by her adventurous spirit and Twix, her (hilarious) talking dog who provides wise commentary on issues of class, wealth, and the value of stay-at-home parenting. Fusselman (Idiophone, 2018) delivers a well-paced story with gentle humor, compassion, and a sparkling, original look at the absurdities of everyday life in a world filled with inequities, financial and otherwise. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.Review by Library Journal Reviews
DEBUT In Fusselman's entertaining debut, Shelly Means is a stay-at-home mom, resentful that her job is not considered "real" work. She spends a lot of money but only on discounted products and services. (She even bought their dog on sale.) She's just too busy to take on a paying job. Fortunately, her husband, George, has a great job, which allows them to live in Manhattan. But Shelly wants a beach house, too, so they buy a piece of property in affluent East Hampton and begin planning an economy-conscious house. Trouble arises when George loses his job and the East Hampton housing committee objects to their proposal, but a host of quirky and hilarious advisors push Shelly to move ahead with her plan. VERDICT With Shelly, Fusselman creates a character determined to see her vision to completion without regard for impediments of any kind, and the supporting roles (like a therapist who's also a real estate broker and party planner) will leave readers laughing. Recommended to anyone who enjoys humorous fiction.—Joanna M. Burkhardt Copyright 2022 Library Journal.
"The debut novel from "wholly original" (Vogue) memoirist Amy Fusselman, a tragicomic family saga that skewers contemporary issues of money, motherhood, and class through a well-to-do woman's quest to buy a Hamptons beach house"--Review by Publisher Summary 2
Wealthy stay-at-home mom, Shelly Means, determined to have a summer home in the Hamptons, has a vision board, an architect and a plan, but when things go awry, she goes into beast mode to realize the house of her dreams. 50,000 first printing.Review by Publisher Summary 3
The debut novel from “wholly original” (Vogue) memoirist Amy Fusselman, a tragicomic family saga that skewers contemporary issues of money, motherhood, and class through a well-to-do woman’s quest to buy a Hamptons beach house. Shelly Means, a wealthy stay-at-home mom and disgraced former PTA president, is poised to get the one thing in life she really wants: a beach house in the Hamptons. Who would have guessed that Shelly, the product of frugal Midwesterners, or her husband George, an unrepentant thrift shopper, would ever be living among such swells? But Shelly believes it’s possible. It might be a very small house, and it might be in the least-fancy part of the Hamptons. But Shelly has a vision board, an architect, and a plan. But what should be a simple real estate transaction quickly goes awry as Shelly’s new neighbors disapprove of her proposed shipping container house at the same time that George’s lucrative work as a VoiceOver artist dries up. But Shelly is dogged. She knows how to go into beast mode. But will it ever be enough to realize her beach house dreams? A novel of real estate, ambition, family, and money from “one of our best interrogators of how we live now, and how we should live” (Dave Eggers), The Means is also a fantastical, fast-moving and very funny exploration of class, wealth, and the value of work.