Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey

Why hello Internet! Welcome to my bad idea. For whatever reason (okay, probably Ghost Files) I have been obsessed with spooky this season. From binge listening to true crime and campfire story podcasts to binge watching true crime and ghost hunting videos, I have been Team Spoopy this year. I’m going into this box as I normally do with OUABC boxes, however I know that this is their spooky box for 2022, meaning it is their scary version. As I was opening up the box, I read the letter on the back of the print and just the writing was enough to get my heart racing, so this is going to be an adventure. I’m starting this at 10:30 pm because I love bad ideas, please pray for my soul. Look, let’s just jump into this, and if you are reading this, just know that I at least survived until the morning. I’ll see you soon at the first gift!

Page 26

“While her eyes were shut tight, the fingers of her right hand twitched around the screwdrivers.”

Just Like Home, page 26

Vera returns home to her childhood home because her mother is dying. Her father was obviously a bad dude because everyone knows his name (and not in the Cheers way), but we don’t know what he did yet. We know the house is creepy, but don’t know why yet.

Firstly, thank you to the OUABC team for breaking up this moment. This particular gift is both the most practical and the most me gift I could have gotten. I have the most wonderful nephew whose love I am desperately trying to buy, so the amount of tiny little screws I need to remove is crazy. I definitely will be using it every day of the week.

In regards of the book, I had a solid hour and a half of falling down the video rabbithole, so I’m a little on edge but not totally invested. Had I not opened this gift, I probably would be hooked because the lead up to this figure on the bed had me spooked.

Anyway my friends, I am going to finish this chapter, crash, then see you all tomorrow morning with the next gift!

Page 45

“She let out a sob of relief as the long gray rope fell to the floor…”

Just Like Home, page 45

Vera goes to sleep, bringing us to a memory from her childhood. In that memory, she is talking with her father about something underneath her bed. Her dad tells her there is nothing there, and they also have a conversation about how she can’t go down into the basement, that is her father’s place. Which knowing that he eventually gets arrested is a bit of a red flag. As Vera awakes, she is 1) in a closet which is weird and 2) cold which she then goes into a hole in her gut to pull out the thing that is making her cold. Yes, I recognize that is a weird sentence, but that is where we are.

I haven’t pulled this completely out yet, but I do appreciate that it isn’t the white stringy mess you normally get in a CVS. I’m hoping that it is a little cartoony spider web that I can hang on my fireplace during the season.

In terms of the story: I have had a rough go getting into this one. I want to be very clear, it has nothing to do with the wriiting, I think the writing is incredible. But with other responsibilities in front of me, I’ve lost track of trying to keep up with the story. I have about 3 hours to focus in on this book, so hopefully I can really get into this. Anyway friends, I will see you all in about 20 pages!

Page 67

“She held the thermos over the countertop and shook it hard from side to side until the little cylinder of paper stopped catching on the inside of the lip.”

Just Like Home, page 67

Alrighty friends, so Vera makes it through the night and the next day goes into town to get storage bins. While in town, she runs into her childhood best friend’s mom which does not go well. Vera meets James Duvall who is the artist staying at the Crowder House. Once she returns home, Vera begins working on the kitchen where she finds her father’s old thermos.

Friends, there are not a lot of things that get me super hyped, but water bottles and candles are my jam. This is such a cute water bottle that I 1000% am going to take to work with me. I was disappointed when the thermos was introduced in the previous pages and we didn’t get to the gift, but this guy blew me away. I’ve been getting OUABC gifts for a few years and I have received water bottles from them that were really small for my liking, but this is a full sized one that is also metal which is another plus in my heart. I cannot express how genuinely happy I am to be getting this. Okay, let’s move on.

Does it surprise anyone that I am now almost 8 hours after the last gift. I truly am so easily distracted. Anyway, I will say that I am starting to really get into this book (I promise) because my heart was hammering when Vera looked into the thermos. I was fully expecting a jump scare. But I am going to put my computer and phone away from me and see what that does, hopefully I will see you all soon!

Page 190

“…she couldn’t tell herself that she was imagining the sensation of the quilt stretching out.”

Just Like Home, page 190

Vera has continued to find more notes from her father’s journal about her. She is hoping to learn more about her father’s love since she isn’t getting it from her mother. We begin to unravel Vera’s history with her father including the time she was kissed by her male best friend and her parents’ different reactions. We also learn that Francis, Vera’s father, would kill men that he felt had a grease in them, which I am assuming is based around the adjective “slimy”. When we open this gift, we had our first real taste of something strong under Vera’s bed.

I know I said in the last gift that water bottles and candles get me hyped, but I didn’t even have blankets in my mind when I said that. Give me comfort items and you best believe I am happy. Now I know I didn’t open it up completely, but this is a woven ouija board blanket. I grew up believing that ouija boards are no joke, so I am a little hesitant around the blanket (can take the girl out of the church but can’t take the church out of the girl, am I right?) but I am surprised by the quality. It feels really soft for a woven blanket, so I am curious to see how it holds up!

We are now on night 3 and the scariest night because it is Halloween night. I as a grown adult am actively deciding to read in the dark hoping that will cause me to have less distractions. I am really starting to get into this one to the point I read past the post-it note just so I would know how the scene ended. I am so excited to keep reading, and I am hoping that since there are no more gifts that I will really fall down the rabbit-hole tonight!

Final Thoughts

We really go down memory lane to understand who Francis was and what he had done. We also learn about how he was caught. As we go, we start to really build in conflict with James, even so far as he claims that he is the rightful owner of the house. The intensity continues to build until we eventually find out what is under the bed and how we can finally reach a resolution to this situation.

Listen friends, I got really into this. I ended up finishing around 1 AM, and I wanted to end still feeling the aftereffects of a haunting. Unfortunately, the ending just didn’t do it for me. It felt to me like we were trying really hard to tie everything up in a few pages and I almost wish we didn’t. I think the story would have been so much better if we never knew what lived under the bed. Like it felt like we found out too much at the end, but I think it would have been better to have something still up in the air. Something about having so much resolve left me feeling like “oh… okay I guess” which is really disappointing for how amazing the writing was.

For someone who is looking for a spooky tale, this one’s for you. There were a few times where I was mentally preparing myself for the jump scare coming at me. The jump scares were a little obvious, I was ready a page or so ahead of them, but it hit the spooky bells for me. I don’t recommend it for my friends who have a hard time reading scary novels (no shame in the book game, I only recently started getting into scary novels), I don’t recommend this one. It is just a little too much for general audiences. Ultimately, I am going to give this a 4.5 star rating for the writing, but a 3.75 for the book as a whole.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!