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The View from the Very Best House in Town: 05/15/22
The View from the Very Best House in Town by Meera Trehan is a tale of two friends separated by circumstances and a mansion wanting to be a home. It's told in three alternating points of view: Sam's, Asha's, and Donnybrook's.
Asha and Sam have been friends for most of their lives. Both are autistic and compliment each other's strengths and weaknesses. But now Sam will be going to the elite private school, leaving Asha behind at the public school. Sam loves space and planetariums. Asha loves architecture, especially the mansion behind her home — Donnybrook.
Were it just Asha and Sam's points of view, this novel would have been a predictable but heartfelt exploration of friendship, bullying, and being autistic. But there's a third, very unusual POV: Donnybrook's.
Donnybrook is the mega-mansion, aptly described by Asha's older brother as a frankenmansion. It was designed by the Donaldson's and primarily on the whims of Mrs. Donaldson. It has a turret room with a window in the roof, a dubious spiral staircase, windows of every shape and size, and columns from various eras. It also, at least at the start of book, has an ego as massive as its floor plan.
But over the course of the Sam's year at the private school we see cracks appear in the Donaldson's family life. We see why their daughter is the bully she is. We learn why Asha and now Sam aren't allowed at the home. We also see a gradual but steady humbling of Donnybrook.
This novel also sits on the Road Narrative Spectrum. As the three narrators all lack agency to one degree or another, they are marginalized travelers (66). Their destination is home (66). For Asha and Sam, it's Donnybrook and for Donnybrook, it's the transformation into a home. Their route is the labyrinth (99) as represented by the broken spiral staircase.