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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
"Sugarhouse: Turning the Neighborhood Crack House into Our Home Sweet Home" is by Matthew Batt who will be in Salt Lake City June 26 for a book signing.

"SUGARHOUSE: Turning the Neighborhood Crack House into Our Home Sweet Home," by Matthew Batt, Mariner Books, $14.95, 256 pages (nf)

“Sugarhouse” by Matthew Batt is a grand depiction of turning a rundown mess into something livable. Batt and his wife, Jenae, are first-time homebuyers who get a little more than they bargained for when they buy a fixer-upper in Sugarhouse. Between contractors and do-it-yourself projects, Batt gains a practical education in home renovation.

Moving from Boston to Utah to attend graduate school at the University of Utah, Batt brings an outsider's perspective as he comments on Utah lifestyles and quirks. Along with tales of home renovation headaches he gives us his insights into Utah culture. He also shares tales of his extended family and the problems that mount for them in a chaotic year that finds him flying in and out of town to help his mother with his grandfather. He wades through family turmoil as he learns the ins and outs of laying a slate floor and how to refinish the original hardwood.

All the hard work pays off in the end in the form a beautifully remodeled home. It is hard to believe that they were able to so completely transform a house that Batt describes in this way, “The carpeted floors have a spongy, swim-like feel underfoot. The kitchen looks to have been staged to induce Martha Stewart’s hari-kari. The basement’s low ducts and leviathan furnace are clearly capable of consuming the house, if not in flames, at least in gas bills.”

Batt writes with a clear eye and uses wonderful imagery that carries the reader through the trials and triumphs of remodeling and the twists and turns of balancing a family life.

The book does contain some vulgar language, sexual innuendo and alcohol use that a reader needs to be aware of.

After enjoying their remodeled home for a short time, Batt and his wife moved on to follow teaching positions first in Texas and eventually in St. Paul, Minn. Despite their experiences in Utah, they find themselves settling into a new house that Batt says “needs a little TLC.”

If you go ...

What: Matthew Batt book signing

When: Tuesday, June 26, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingenglish.com

After attending BYU and the University of Utah for five years and not being able to settle on just one major, Connie Lewis decided to be a writer so she could keep studying all things wonderful and new. Her email is [email protected].