A Lot of People Live in This House
by Bailey Merlin
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Pub Date 26 May 2023 | Archive Date 31 Oct 2023
A Lot of People Live in This House follows introvert Rachel; after a devastating loss, she arrives at the house on the hill alone as her partner Job attends a meditation retreat in India for two weeks to unpack his own grief. She’s greeted by housemates who smile, bring her cups of tea, and seem happy she’s there. She hates it. Not long after, Job is trapped in India by a virus that’s grounded just about every plane in the world. As she falls apart, her new housemates rally to find a way to get Job home. Everything Rachel thought she knew about living with others flies out the window and leaves only one remaining truth: Life can be a lot at once, but you don’t have to do it alone.
The novel features a diverse cast with queer-facing characters covering areas like bisexuality, non-binary identity, polyamory, among others. As a queer person, Bailey crafted a story with thoughtful and realistic representation.
"Bailey Merlin imagines a different life, one in which her richly detailed characters cope with living together through the COVID pandemic in a communal household... A Lot of People Live In This House challenges us to rethink what family means in these stormy times and offers hope that there are many ways to live a fulfilling life."
- Neal Baer, Executive Producer of ER, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Designated Survivor
"How do we balance our need for community with our need for privacy? How do we heal from loss and trauma, and from the pain of loneliness and isolation? The Covid-19 pandemic has raised these old questions anew, and Bailey Merlin’s warm, witty, and original novel offers some answers. I fell in love with the characters in A Lot of People Live in This House, and they will stay with me for a very long time."
- Suzanne Koven, Author, Letter to a Young Female Physician
"A smashing debut novel about love in the time of COVID! A Lot of People Live in This House broke my heart and pieced it back together page by page, character by character. What does it take to recover from trauma? In her beautiful book, Bailey Merlin makes a convincing case for applying liberal amounts of friendship and laughter."
- Mary Kay Zuravleff, author of Man Alive! and American Ending
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 15 members
An amazing story of resiliency and how people can become family if we let them. Following Rachel and Job’s relationship during the worst situation of Covid is both heartbreaking and engaging. I love the interactions with all the quirky characters. It made me laugh out loud and choke back tears. I am definitely getting the physical copy!!!
Loved this book as I could very much relate to Rachel. I am an introvert as well and have not been out in situations like this. It's scary to me to even think of it. But, it does make me think maybe I need people more than I realize? Maybe one day, I will? Not everyone is bad.
This makes you realize that humans need each other.
A lot of people live in this house is a story of humans supporting each other told in the most delightful way possible. The found family vibes in this book made me think about my own experiences in communal living and brought back wonderful memories
*potential trigger warning for mentions of the pandemic .
This will be a book I come back to over the years. Still processing a bit, but the relationships between the characters, the development of trust, the growth exhibited both personally and relationally is just something special. This was a beautiful blend of heartfelt prose and hilarity, a striking balance that gives readers an opportunity to find pieces of this story that mirror their own experiences. Is it weird to read a story set in a heartbreaking, challenging, terrifying time of recent present? Absolutely - especially since that time is still not truly over. But I think this will be a story that stands the test of time without receding into irrelevance because of it's time period.
This book is so lovely and unexpected. I've never known anyone that lived in a community like the one described so beautifully in this novel. I love the writing and really enjoyed all of the characters. As someone married to a health care worker, I really appreciate the real and honest depiction of the early days of the pandemic. While we would all like to forget it, I think stories like this are important. I can't wait to read more from Bailey.
This book does so many things well. There is a very large cast of characters, but all of them are individual, rounded, and have a role in the story. Rachel's anxiety is handled so carefully. At first, we just accept it as part of her without digging for details, but the sources of her distress do come out at the right times to enrich the story. The use of apps and technology is spot on, and I've seen so many novels that can't get that right. Thinking back, I have clear images of most of the rooms in the house, even though the there wasn't much obvious description. We saw the rooms as Rachel experienced them. And this is the first book I've read that really captures those early months of the COVID pandemic. I was checking news articles and government sites daily to see if choir practice was still on or whether I should cancel Scout meetings, then boom!, a shelter in place order at noon, pack your office and don't come back. Taking safety measures even though not enough was known about the virus, limiting trips to the grocery, all of that came back while reading this.
I absolutely loved this book. It started a little slow for me, but the last few chapters had me crying every couple of sentences, and the story is one I will not forget soon.
This is the story of Rachel and Job, two people who found themselves shortly after they'd been orphaned, and found solace in each other, making it easy for both to fall completely in love. A few years later they get pregnant, only to discover their baby girl will not make it to her due date alive. This is enough to devastate both of them, but Job even more. This triggers in Rachel a desire to travel the world to show Job that life is still worth living. After a year abroad, they decider to move back to the US, and they find a communal home in Boston that they think will fit their temporary needs, while Job finished up his mediation course in India. Bear in mind this is February 2020, just before the global pandemic hit. I won't spoil much more, but this the story about found family that has impacted me profoundly, in a way no other found family stories ever had. The way Rachel's anxiety takes over her, and the importance of allowing yourself to be loved and to be vulnerable is something the author tackled incredibly well.
I will be reading any book by Bailey Merlin from now on.