By: Hailey Hayes
Local author, Emma L.R. Hogg, is a skilled storyteller, and her latest novel, Picket Fences, touches on complicated relationships of the romantic, friend, and familial variety, offering a look at the everyday trials and changes that can occur over time. High-school friendships, work relationships, complicated lovers, marriage difficulties, and the different ways of dealing with grief. Hogg covers all of these topics and more and connects with areas that are a part of the human experience for so many.
The characters in this text felt real. Throughout the book their development was layered and nuanced; they represented people whose lives aren’t perfect but who still live in a world that often presents perfect expectations.
The main character, Sloane, is working as a secretary and assistant when we meet her, but her real passion is a career in graphic design. Her husband, Jason, has always wanted to be a video game developer. Both Sloane and Jason are not where they planned to be career-wise, which is made even more challenging because they aren’t where they expected to be family-wise. Readers get glimpses of Sloane’s experiences in high-school and during her undergrad, which is where readers are introduced to her best friend Stephie and the traumatic event that leaves a lasting impact on her life.
By the end of the book, readers are left to ask, how well do we know the people we are closest to in our lives? Do we see them as they are, as the projections and reflections of pieces of ourselves, or of who we want them to be? As Sloane eventually realizes, “I’ve been focusing on all the wrong things. On all the wrong people.”
All of the different threads and themes were brought together by the end of the novel, and point towards a hopeful future for the characters.
I recommend everyone get their hands on a copy of Hogg’s latest work!