Community Board by Tara Conklin takes a satirical look at neighborhoods in the digital age. If you are a member of your neighborhood NextDoor or similar app, you know. Suspicious persons, lost pets, creepy creepers, and angry folks turn to NextDoor to ramp up the crazy. It’s HOA board meetings on steroids.
The main character, Darcy, gets dumped by her husband in the first chapter of the book. He leaves her for Bianca, a yoga instructor. Darcy is devastated. Without calling first, she packs a bag and heads to her little hometown of Murbridge, where she moves in with her parents.
Immediately upon arrival, she finds the house abandoned. Her parents have decided to retire to Arizona and they’re trying out a retirement community there before they sell their house. Darcy throws a fit.
An aside: Tara Conklin does not use quotation marks in this book. At times, this makes it difficult to decipher if the character is saying something out loud, or thinking. For example:
I called Mom’s cell phone. She picked up, her voice breathless.
Darcy, sorry, dear. I’m just doing an exercise video.
A video? I said. You mean, at home?
Yes, dear. I’m watching an exercise vide3o at home. Today is abs day.
No, you’re not, I said. I’m at home. You are not at home.
A few moments of heathy breathing followed. Oh, I knew we should have told you, said Mom. Your father – he thought it was best if we didn’t say anyth8ing. But I told him – Darcy should know about this!
We’re in Arizona, dear. A retirement community down here called Little Valley.Tara Conklin, Community Board
If this style of writing is difficult for you to read, try the audiobook.
Darcy does not take this news well. She’s livid that her parents would dare move away from the childhood home that she loves. She is irate and lets her parents know it. She refuses to answer the door. She eats all of the canned food in the house, never leaving. She basically goes into a depression isolation but the book really isn’t that serious.
Basically, Darcy is a selfish brat. As she is drawn out of her home and into the community of Murbridge, she makes friends, they all learn from each other, and the Murbridge Mushroom festival is where all of the quirky characters come together in the end. We learn that what’s going on outside of our lives isn’t always indicative of what is going on inside our houses.
Where does one go, you might ask, when the world falls apart? When the immutable facts of your life—the mundane, the trivial, the take-for-granted minutiae that once filled every second of every day—suddenly disappear? Where does one go in such dire and unexpected circumstances?
I went home, of course.
MURBRIDGE COMMUNITY MESSAGE BOARD
FREE: 500 cans of corn. Accidentally ordered them online. I really hate corn. Happy to help load.
REMINDER: use your own goddamn garbage can for your own goddamn pet waste. I’m looking at you Peter Luflin.
REMINDER: monthly Select Board meeting this Friday. Agenda items: 1) sludge removal; 2) upkeep of chime tower; 3) ice rink monitor thank you gift. Questions? Contact Hildegard Hyman, HHMurbridge@gmail.com
Darcy Clipper, prodigal daughter, nearly thirty, has returned home to Murbridge, Massachusetts, after her life takes an unwelcome left turn. Murbridge, Darcy is convinced, will welcome her home and provide a safe space in which she can nurse her wounds and harbor grudges, both real and imagined.
But Murbridge, like so much else Darcy thought to be fixed and immutable, has changed. And while Darcy’s first instinct might be to hole herself up in her childhood bedroom, subsisting on Chef Boy-R-Dee and canned chickpeas, it is human nature to do two things: seek out meaningful human connection and respond to anonymous internet postings. As Murbridge begins to take shape around Darcy, both online and in person, Darcy will consider the most fundamental of American questions: What can she ask of her community? And what does she owe it in return?