Book Highlight: Split-Level by Sande Boritz Berger

book highlight split level sande boritz berger
Book Review: Split-Level by Sande Boritz Berger

Title: Split-Level

Author: Sande Boritz Berger

Publisher: She Writes Press

Publication Date: May 7, 2019

Genre: Fiction

In Split-Level, set as the nation recoils from Nixon, Alex Pearl is about to commit the first major transgression of her life. But why shouldn’t she remain an officially contented, soon-to-turn-thirty wife? She’s got a lovely home in an upscale Jersey suburb, two precocious daughters, and a charming husband, Donny. But Alex can no longer deny she craves more—some infusion of passion into the cul-de-sac world she inhabits.

After she receives a phone call from her babysitter’s mother reporting that Donny took the teen for a midnight ride, promising he’d teach her how to drive, Alex insists they attend Marriage Mountain, the quintessential 1970s “healing couples sanctuary.” Donny accedes—but soon becomes obsessed with the manifesto A Different Proposition and its vision of how multiple couples can live together in spouse-swapping bliss. At first Alex scoffs, but soon she gives Donny much more than he bargained for. After he targets the perfect couple to collude in his fantasy, Alex discovers her desire for love escalating to new heights—along with a willingness to risk everything. Split-Level evokes a pivotal moment in the story of American matrimony, a time when it seemed as if an open marriage might open hearts as well.

Why This Book

Split-Level is all about a married couple who basically decide to become swingers. Maybe it’s not the most romantic sort of story for Valentine’s Day, but my theme this month is books with established couples and there’s no denying this one has an established couple. Of course, things take some interesting turns and only the end will tell if they stay married or not. But here’s my first established couple of the month: Alex and Donny Pearl. Fortunately, this book is more than just a couple who starts swapping partners with another couple. It’s also very much about Alex living a typical married woman’s life in the 1970s who happens to struggle with what society dictates of her.


My review: “Overall, this was both annoying and satisfying. There were parts of it that annoyed and frustrated me, but, given time to think about it, I also developed an appreciation for the story the author wove.”

Women in Trouble Book Blog gave this 4 stars, saying “I thought Berger did an amazing job writing real, multi-dimensional characters. I really identified with Alex. And I think the breakdown of her marriage and of their friends’ was a very realistic portrait of the dangers of that type of relationship”

Linda’s Book Obsession Reviews said “I appreciate that the author discusses the concept of marriage, communication, honesty. family, friends, love, and hope. The author also mentions the use of alcohol and drugs, which seems to play a part in decision-making. When is it time to grow up and take responsibility?”

Observations from a simple life said “The great part about the book was the author’s description of the 1970s atmosphere. However, the characters were either creepy or so bland you just didn’t care for him or her. There were no real emotions, no real conflict and even a real resolution. With a topic like wife swapping, which usually ends badly, the book fell flat.”

Book Beach Bunny said “So Split-Level was mostly good and a little messy… You could probably make larger point about that and marriages period. It’s a good character study though even if you occasionally want to roll your eyes at or punch the characters.”

Book Review Bin gave this 3 stars, saying “Although this book is well written, you’ll leave at the end of the novel feeling like you hate most of the characters, whether you are totally cool with the idea of these couples as swingers or whether you are appalled by that idea”

Purchase Links

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6 thoughts on “Book Highlight: Split-Level by Sande Boritz Berger

  1. Don’t get me started on society’s expectations of women — I still have people trying to “liberate” me from the life that I’ve fought tooth-and-nail to create for myself, just because it doesn’t line up with their idea of how modern women should be.

    That said, I happen to enjoy a good trainwreck every now and then, and this book is rather tempting, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think women will always be fighting against what society expects in one way or another. We never do seem to be able to do anything right. Apparently.

      Ha! I like that. It’s a good trainwreck book, kind of in slow motion with oddly uninteresting characters.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s why I spend most of my time hiding at home where I can do my own thing in peace.

        Well it is set in the 1970’s, so the characters are supposed to be Boomers. Ha ha.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Fortunately, I haven’t run into hostility, but, then again, I do live in LA where people are more concerned with how they look and what car they drive than what moms do.

        Liked by 1 person

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