"A pathbreaking feminist manifesto, impossible to put down or dismiss. Gina Frangello tells the morally complex story of her adulterous relationship with a lover and her shortcomings as a mother, and in doing so, highlights the forces that shaped, silenced, and shamed her: everyday misogyny, puritanical expectations regarding female sexuality and maternal sacrifice, and male oppression." --Adrienne Brodeur, author of Wild Game
Gina Frangello spent her early adulthood trying to outrun a youth marked by poverty and violence. Now a long-married wife and devoted mother, the better life she carefully built is emotionally upended by the death of her closest friend. Soon, awakened to fault lines in her troubled marriage, Frangello is caught up in a recklessly passionate affair, leading a double life while continuing to project the image of the perfect family. When her secrets are finally uncovered, both her home and her identity will implode, testing the limits of desire, responsibility, love, and forgiveness.
Blow Your House Down is a powerful testimony about the ways our culture seeks to cage women in traditional narratives of self-sacrifice and erasure. Frangello uses her personal story to examine the place of women in contemporary society: the violence they experience, the rage they suppress, the ways their bodies often reveal what they cannot say aloud, and finally, what it means to transgress "being good" in order to reclaim your own life.
About the Author
GINA FRANGELLO is the author of Every Kind of Wanting, A Life in Men, Slut Lullabies, and My Sister's Continent. Her short fiction, essays, book reviews, and journalism have been published in Ploughshares, The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, HuffPost, Fence, Five Chapters, Prairie Schooner, Chicago Reader, and many other publications. She lives with her family in the Chicago area.
A Rumpus Most Anticipated Book of Next Year
"Compelling, honest, and thought-provoking, Gina Frangello's memoir is an inspired addition to her astounding body of work." —Charlize Theron
"My bet for breakout of the year. The Chicagoan’s memoir takes on gender expectations and marital affairs in such a brutal, self-lacerating candor, you wonder who should play her in the movie." —Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune
"Too many memoirs fall into the trap of mistaking martyrdom for nobility, sacrifice for bravery; they float on the still-shiny surface rather than excavating into the murk. Gina Frangello's Blow Your House Down is not that kind of memoir. Instead, it is fierce and violent, a rampaging storm—a breathtaking, luminous reminder of the wreckage we are capable of making of our own lives." ––Kristin Iversen, Refinery29, One of the Best New Books of the Year
"I’m a sucker for the sort of story arc in Blow Your House Down: Woman follows the rules. Woman becomes wife, mother. Woman is 'good' in all things. One day, following crisis or unrelenting ennui, woman realizes that her life feels hollow or binding, so she sets about changing said life (sometimes in explosive fashion). I love this story enough in novel form, but better yet, Gina Frangello unravels it in all its reckless, transgressive, messy glory in this memoir about womanhood and misogyny, sex and joy." ––Literary Hub, One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Year
"In this searing memoir, novelist Frangello charts the spectacular highs and devastating lows of her midlife with extraordinary candor . . . Frangello describes this bold and tumultuous period of her life in intimate and remarkable detail, and despite the tumult celebrates her own resilience. This unapologetic account both moves and fascinates." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Gina Frangello can always make me think and laugh; she's also one of the very few authors who's made me cry. Blow Your House Down is searing, honest, heartbreaking, heart-mending, and a hell of a wild ride. Frangello says things women aren't allowed to say, even to ourselves." —Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers
"Gina Frangello's Blow Your House Down blazes open a radical new portrait of a woman's life with dazzling honesty and breathtaking beauty. Threading through the terrors of breast cancer and caretaking a dying father, navigating the end of a long-term marriage and the burst of new love, Blow Your House Down reveals the epic journey of one woman's life and body. This book is a heart beating, not beaten. This book is a mighty heartsong." —Lidia Yuknavitch, author of Verge and The Chronology of Water