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All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House Hardcover – May 27, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061362867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061362866
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,388,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This Old House meets The Money Pit in journalist Giffels's search for an affordable home. The Giffels family settles on a run-down, soon to be condemned early–20th-century mansion, but when he arrives at the mansion to begin his work—aided eventually by scores of workers—he finds leaks in several areas of the roof, crumbling brick, dry-rotted wood, warped floors, vermin droppings and nests, as well as a beautiful old staircase, a fireplace in the bedroom and gorgeous brass hinges and other fixtures. Convinced that he can recover the former glory of this house with a little elbow grease and perseverance, Giffels sets out on his mission—fueled by the strains of R.E.M. and the Clash—to renovate the house one room at a time. Giffels fights a losing battle as he seeks to remove squirrels, mice and a raccoon from his abode—his attempt to scare away squirrels from the attic by using an electric guitar is especially amusing—and he discovers that every victory carries with it a failure somewhere else. Sometimes humorous, Giffels's memoir comments sadly on one man's stubbornness and selfishness (even his wife's miscarriages don't stop him from his work) in his quest to make a house a home. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

David Giffels is an assistant professor of English at the University of Akron, where he teaches creative nonfiction. Formerly an award-winning columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal and a contributing commentator on NPR, his writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and many other publications. He lives in Akron, Ohio, with his wife and two children.

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Customer Reviews

He is an excellent writer.
Elizabeth Anne Fry
Mr. Giffels is indeed a fine writer and has a very humble and self-effacing style with a keen eye for detail and introspection.
Scott F. Griffin
I picked up a copy of this book to read later this summer "when I have more time".
R. Davis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Paula A. on May 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I too, live in Akron Ohio and my husband and I are working on our 1928 home, so when we saw this book in our local bookstore it was irresistable!

We gulped the book down the same night - first me, then my husband (he started it at about 2am and finished it the next day), finding it wonderfully well-written, humorous and poignant (near the end).

His adventures in house restoration were far more extreme than what we've had to tackle but we could totally relate to his desire to return a once-beautiful structure to its former glory. Akron indeed has some very special neighborhoods with really wonderful, full-of-character yet affordable homes (including spectacular Tudor mansions like David's). They've all changed hands numerous times over the years and many have suffered from neglect and/or really unfortunate decorating decisions, but their bones are marvelous and they are really worth the effort to renovate and restore.

Intertwined with the very humorous saga-of-the-house, though, is his personal struggle with parenthood, ego, obsession and his attempts to balance work, an overwhelming renovation project and his fears that he was neglecting his family through his efforts to provide for it.

It made for an absorbing, at times hilarious and also touching read.

I don't want to recommend it only to people who are working on their houses (or have in the past) but I have to say that if you are or ever have, you will really relate to this book. The sheer hard work, the choices you struggle with, the level of perfection you settle on, the sense of accomplishment and the feeling that you'll never be finished - all are addressed here. Also, the attraction of old, beautifully built homes that seem to embody a kind of romance not available in modern houses. Anyone who looks for "character" in their dwelling will enjoy this book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By MLPlayfair on June 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House" is the true story of Akron resident and Beacon Journal writer David Giffels' attempt to restore an old house to its original beauty.

When Giffels' wife finds out she's expecting Baby No. 2, they go hunting for a larger home and find a big, run-down old mansion in Akron. Giffels admits that he loves restoring and reconstruction projects, but this fixer-upper needs an awesome amount of work. He is driven by a challenge, a "wholly impractical, mostly secret yearning to find peace through chaos," and he has just enough knowledge to be dangerous.

He gives us terrifying descriptions of the state of the house -- including smells so vivid that I needed some fresh air: "The ceiling drooped heavily and dripped with cobwebs and flaking paint and strange extensions that looked like stalactites made of dirt. The thick plaster on the walls was reduced to piles of horsehair-infused sand on the floor and the walls were stained and restained with rust streaks and calcified blotches where the leaky steam lines and water pipes had left their mark. The walls seemed poisonous. The whole basement smelled of something that had been soaked and dried and soaked and dried until its scent had texture in three dimensions: one old, one new, and one fermenting." Oh, dear Lord. There is so much wrong with the house, I'm amazed he didn't turn his back on it in the beginning: there's no running water; the roof, windows -- 733 panes of glass -- and drainpipes are compromised; the flooring and walls are warped and filled with holes; not to mention that raccoons and other critters have been or still are in residence.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert M. Ethington Jr. on May 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'm not someone inclined to enjoy a "home improvement book", but Giffels' ALL THE WAY HOME is much, much more than that. Not only is the story in itself interesting, and the family and personal dynamics artfully explored, but this book is simply written in beautiful prose that is often funny, touching, and always engaging. Highly recommended!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Getty on June 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow, I LOVED this book! Admittedly, I am a junkie when it comes to books about the joys and pains of home improvement, and this one is the best I've read so far! The story is an interesting one and the subject is my favorite, but what really makes "All the Way Home" stand out is his eloquent writing - the clarity and humor he uses in describing feelings and events is engaging, absolutely beautiful and made me eager for the next page like a crack addict about to make his next score. I don't think I have ever (literally) laughed out loud so many times while reading a book. At the same time, it was thoughtful, relatable and real. Loved it, loved it, loved it... I want to be friends with the author David and his wife Gina - and I want to visit their home! In fact, the only thing I felt was lacking in this book were more pictures of the house, the starring character of the story. A terrific read for anyone who's ever loved an old house (or hated squirrels!).
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Eric Nuzum on May 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In all seriousness, this is a fantastic book. It is funny without being obvious or simple; sincere without being overly sentimental; insightful yet entertaining.

ALL THE WAY HOME follows the Giffels family on their quest to save an old rundown house from the wrecking ball. But it's also about a lot of other things: learning what makes a house a home, the careful balance of relationships, and the sudden realization you have, at some point in your life, that you are now an "Adult."

When you read this book, you'll find yourself sharing anecdotes and stories with your friends. In fact, I'd challenge you to read it and keep it to yourself. Impossible. It's that kind of good.
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