The Irresistible Henry House was not actually all that irresistible. It wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t particularly great either. Thankfully I read it fairly quickly.
The premise of the book was very interesting and if it had been executed well it would have been fantastic. Henry House (known later as Henry Gaines) was an orphan who was used as a “practice baby” in a home economics class to help women in the 1940s learn how to become proper mothers. Henry was taken care by seven different women over the first two years of his life. He was later adopted by Martha the woman in charge of the practice house, who fell in love with him and did not want to give him back to the orphanage. This led to him growing up in the practice house around even more practice mothers, and left him with an inability to love anyone properly.
The thing that was not done well with this book was the characters. The only characters that were decent people were Mary Jane, Henry’s lifelong friend, and Charlie and Karen, two of Henry’s high school teachers. Frankly, Henry was a jerk. He was good looking and got every girl he could want and was often dating multiple girls at a time and the second any admitted to having feelings for him he dumped them. The point that was stressed throughout the book was that because he had so many mothers as a baby he was incapable of loving, so he never wanted to choose. Instead he became a class A ****. Additionally: Martha, his birth mother Betty, and his grandfather were all awful. Martha lied to him and was obsessively protective of him. Betty abandoned him as a baby then came back and wanted him back only to abandon him again and his grandfather wanted nothing to do with him. No one in this book is redeemable. Except poor Mary Jane who kept getting over-looked by Henry.
Also, the end of the book got preachy, which is weird considering no one in this book has any right to feel moral. I don’t want to get political, but the end felt like an anti-abortion message, which was not what I expected or desired. So thanks for that.
This book could have been great, but it fell flat for me. Read this if you want a quick read where you can sense a good book trying to emerge.