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J. Courtney Sullivan | Exclusive Excerpt: MODEL HOME

December 1, 2021

Today and tomorrow we are sharing exclusive excerpts from a wonderful bunch of authors with new short stories available for the holidays season. Up next: J. Courtney Sullivan! 


Not happy? No problem. Fake it. From New York Times bestselling author J. Courtney Sullivan comes the sharp-witted short story, Model Home, about the reality of reality TV.

When I was growing up, my family lived in a little house on a busy street in Joliet, across from a gas station and next door to a strip mall. It was like an entire neighborhood had once been there and was demolished but for that one ugly split-level ranch. Maybe that is what happened, I don’t know. We had one tiny bathroom for five people. A galley kitchen with fluorescent lights. Everything was always a mess. Forget a mudroom, we didn’t even have a coat closet. Everyone just walked in the door and tossed their coats onto the arm of the plastic-wrapped sofa.

My parents didn’t care about having, nor could they afford, anything nice. They patched broken windows with black garbage bags. When the roof leaked, they’d just put a pot on the carpet to catch the drips, and the pot would become a permanent fixture. I never wanted anyone to know where I lived. I made a point of always going to friends’ houses, never inviting them to mine. In high school, I’d have dates pick me up half a mile from home.

The meanest of the mean girls figured it out anyway. They teased me about it in middle school. Once I broke down to my sixth-grade teacher, telling her I wanted more than anything to be popular, and prayed every night that my dad would win the Powerball.

“No,” she said. “You don’t want people to like you because you’re rich. You should want to be popular for the right reasons—because you’re kind and smart and a good person.”

It was like she’d never actually met a sixth grader before.

My parents were always so content to be below average. They never showed any signs of wanting more. Thank God for my grandma. She didn’t have anything either, but at least she aspired to greatness.

The two of us used to get dressed up on Sunday mornings, looking for all the world like we were headed to church. My dad thought that’s where we were going, though what kind of church lasts all day, I don’t know. We were actually going to open houses up in the northern suburbs. The more expensive the house, the better. Mansions, my grandmother called them. They were our churches. Our museums. Strangers’ high ceilings and kitchen islands and walk-in closets were works of art to be admired and worshipped. And then left behind. Just a dream.

I don’t think we had any realtor fooled into believing we were serious buyers, but I believed I’d live in such a house one day.

“You’ll be a Glencoe Girl,” my grandma said.

And now I am.

Read More About Model Home Here >>

Jump Into the Holidays with Exclusive Excerpts from Festive Reads by Bestselling Authors Rainbow Rowell, Suzanne Redfearn, J. Courtney Sullivan, and Chandler Baker on FRESH FICTION!

What happens when a group of bestselling authors are asked to write holiday tales? Pure magic. Unwrap short reads by your favorite writers by visiting Then download Rainbow Rowell’s take on an awkward meetup after the pandemic has made one couple’s social skills rather rusty. Scroll on as Suzanne Redfearn’s heroine gives her husband-to-be a mid-winter quest that will (hopefully) ensure their happy-ever-after. Don’t miss J. Courtney Sullivan’s fame-hungry reality TV star’s attempts to create an early holiday miracle for a struggling couple. And finally, laugh-out-loud at Chandler Baker’s fictional Clauster family as their Christmas celebration goes up in flames.

MODEL HOME by J. Courtney Sullivan

Model Home

Not happy? No problem. Fake it. From New York Times bestselling author J. Courtney Sullivan comes a sharp-witted short story about the reality of reality TV.

Judging by the popularity of her home-makeover show, Katie has it all: a sweet-natured husband, Damian, as her cohost; adorable tween daughters; a designer mansion; and a just-folks appeal that has made the happy couple home-renovation royalty. Out of the spotlight, it’s a different story. Katie’s marriage is disintegrating, her spoiled daughters despise her, and her money can’t do anything to repair her personal problems—or her professional ones. With a contract up for renewal and Damian ready to bail after one last holiday special, Katie can kiss her artificial world goodbye too. But if there’s one thing a pro like Katie knows how to do, it’s negotiate.

Women’s Fiction [Amazon Publishing, On Sale: October 28, 2021, e-Book, / ]

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About J. Courtney Sullivan

J. Courtney Sullivan

J. Courtney Sullivan is the New York Times bestselling author of Friends and StrangersSaints for All Occasions, named one of the ten best books of the year by the Washington Post and a New York Times Critic’s PickThe Engagements, soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon; Maine, a Time magazine Best Book of the Year and a Washington Post Notable Book; and Commencement. A Massachusetts native, Courtney lives in the Boston area.


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