For Rent by Erin Huss is a novel with 39 chapters. I received the book from the Library Thing Member Giveaway program in return for a review. Each chapter is filled with sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek humor as the reader is led to possibly commiserate with the series of disasters that is Cambria’s life. The humor, the vernacular, and absurd situations make the book enjoyable. There is nothing deep, no philosophical messages here. I have used this phrase before to describe what I think of this type of novel and I will use it again. This is a novel that is fun but if I left it on the bus during a cross-country road trip I would not be upset. And I would have offered a diversion to travelers following me.
Cambria needs a job … fast. She is about to be evicted, she has no income, she has a daughter, Lilly, and she has no clue about what she wants to do in her life. Responding to an ad for an apartment manager, she arrives for an interview at a motel/hotel that quite probably rents to tenants by the hour as well as to others who are just ahead of her in the index of desperation to get by in the daily struggle. The soon-to-be-retired present manager, Joyce should train Cambria, but after being finally accepted for the job the extent of Cambria’s training seems to be “Don’t go to courtyard three… ever, and avoid Kevin… always. Kevin is the son of the owner, lives for free, and is morbidly unusual
The novel proceeds as Cambria deals with a variety of eccentric occupants. An elderly grandparent couple keeps other residents awake day and night with their sexual adventures. The maintenance man, super handsome and seductive, a man who works for Cambria, can’t seem to maintain anything and appears frequently stoned on drugs. Just after Cambria assumes her new duties, the apartment complex is hit with a crime wave. There are many cars stolen (except for those reported as stolen but were in actuality repossessed) and damaged or “keyed.” Mysterious figures come and go; Cambria thinks there are criminal enterprises and she wants to investigate.
In a hotel with so many eccentric guests, author Huss has many tales to tell and the tales are told with humor to the point of absurdity and, sometimes, despair. An interesting device is that almost all of her chapters begin with a quote of a hotel rule. As the story progresses, the rules become more absurd as does the supporting tale. Cambria wants to give up, but that is financially impossible. One example:
I could deal with screeching parrots and sex-crazed grandparents and stolen wallets in the Dumpster. I could even listen to Larry talk about his hemorrhoids. However, I could not, nor would I, put up with Kevin. I was desperate for the job, yes. I had an overdrawn account, yes. I didn’t have the funds for another apartment, yes. I… forgot where I was going with this. I couldn’t leave, therefore, Kevin had to. And honestly, he needed to. Sane people didn’t skinny-dip in a community pool at midnight or masturbate in neighbors’ apartments. (loc 1189-1193).
If you have the spare time and are looking for lighthearted entertainment, this is a book for you.