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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first had mixed feelings about reading this one, but then I decided I needed to give it a chance- and now I am glad I did. It's a really good read! Now about the story... Tom Gardner is the principal at the local high school, happily married with his first wife, Claire of 18 years, who teaches English at the same high school and they have 2 good kids of whom are both at the high school. Things change when Kent Arens walks into Tom's office as a transfer student. Tom's first reaction to Kent is like looking at himself 25 years ago. Kent is accompanied with his mother, Monica whom Tom recognizes from college days. And then Tom starts getting a sickening feeling. There was that one night- the night of his bachelor party, the night before his wedding to Claire when he made the fatal mistake of getting drunk and making-out with the pizza delivery girl. He has always felt guilty of that night- the one time he was unfaithful to Claire. And then it was because he had felt cornered into getting married. Claire had come to him and told him that she was pregnant. He had just graduated from college and had been looking forward to having a time of fun and freedom but now he was being tied down. It had been purely an act of rebellion. He had never told Claire but had tried making it up to her by being a good and loving husband... and they were the happiest they had ever been. How could this have happened? Was it possible for him to have another son the same age as his present son that he had with Claire? What was this going to do to his family? How would they react? And what would people there at the school say? Tom was so well thought of and Tom and Claire were thought to have the ideal marriage. What about Kent? He was the ideal son-great grades, out-standing athlete, well-liked and thought of, and his mother's life. He had never known his father-had no idea who he was and what the situation was between his mother and father. How was he going to take having a father step into his life now? The story is so realistic... you can't help but feel for the characters involved, you really feel their hurt. Once again LS makes you really think and get involved in the story. It's a good story and I highly recommend it.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book made me so angry, I just had to vent. The way that Claire is treated by her husband Tom and her spoiled rotten kids was hideous.
Tom tells her that not only did he cheat on her before they were married, but that he fathered another child. A young man that she has to see every day. A kid who was dating their daughter. Claire is (justifiably) angry at him for this. She (understandably) loses her trust for him. She asks him for a separation. So what happens?
Everyone dumps on her. How can she be so cruel? How can she not forgive him and welcome his former lover (one night stand) and illegitimate child into her heart?
HE cheated on her, and SHE'S the bad guy. HE publically humiliates her by bringing his illegitimate kid into the home, and SHE'S a terrible woman for not being delighted. She's a bad woman for not instantly being delighted at the existence of her "stepson".
Tom, the jerk, plays the wounded victim to the core. "Why do I have such an unreasonable wife?" Considering his violent reaction when a man FLIRTS with Claire, Tom is also a hypocrite.
And her kids. "You are breaking up the family!" Huh. Why don't they tell Dad, "Why didn't you keep your pants on?"
No. They have to act out, so that they can lay a guilt trip on Mom. "You broke up the family, and our lives are going to be ruined!" Huh. These kids are in High School, that's a little old to be playing traumetized child of divorce.
If I had been Claire, I would have dumped all of them. They deserved each other.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Mass Market Paperback
HOME SONG by LaVyrle Spencer
One of my favorite books by LaVyrle Spencer so far, HOME SONG is the story of a family torn apart by an indiscretion from the past.
The Gardners are the perfect family. Tom is the principal of the local high school, his wife Claire is an English teacher in the same school, and their children Chelsea and Robby attend the high school in this closely-knit town. They are a happy family, and everyone knows it. Tom and Claire are 100% devoted to their children, and Chelsea, a cheerleader, and Robby, a football player, are well-rounded well-behaved teens that love their parents very much.
Right before the school year starts that September, Tom is introduced to a new student, Kent Arens, and after a second look at Kent's mother, Tom realizes Monica Arens was the one-night stand he had a week before he married his wife Claire. And it is obvious to him that Kent was the result. Kent is the spitting image of Tom at that age. Tom had never had a need to let Claire know about his fling, because it happened before he made his wedding vows, and he did not think he'd ever see Monica again. There was nothing between them, no emotional ties. They meant nothing to each other, then or now.
What happens the next few months is something out of Tom's worst nightmare, as he struggles with keeping this a secret or letting his wife and family know about the affair. Their world is torn apart as slowly, the rest of the school finds out who Kent really is, a student that was embraced by the student body and as popular with them as Chelsea and Robby.
HOME SONG deals with the theme of infidelity and how it impacts a family that seems too strong to be torn apart. LaVryle Spencer as usual creates real characters with real feelings, characters that are also likable and authentic. This reviewer's only complaint is the Hollywood-type ending, but over all, this was another excellent book by Spencer. She has a knack for writing stories that will shock the reader, yet does so in a very realistic manner that makes her stories believable. Highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 19, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Okay so most know the plot from the other reviewers. So why bother rehashing? Instead how about the questions. Why did she become the bad guy? Why did she suddenly decide that Tom was having an affair when she already had a legitimate reason to be upset with him? He had a one night affair the week before Claire and he married. She states that he went from her to the other woman and back to her in a three day period. He manages to get the other woman pregnant and of course Claire is also pregnant. Why is Tom upset because Claire can't get over it and the repercusions in one weekend? He had 18 years to get over his guilt. Why would he even think that his wife could in one weekend especially when he tells her he felt "railroaded" into getting married. What about Claire? Did he think she planned it? Heck what about Robby? Didn't he even stop to think about that? Nope instead you got these over the top teenagers who don't even stop to think about how their mom feels. Does Tom not even realize what that confession of being railroaded can do to a person's self esteem? And he thinks he is a good principal. Let's not forget the school counselor. How can she openly admit to taking sides when she doesn't even know the entire story? Do Tom and Claire ever get good counseling?

Just seemed to me that the guy who did something wrong suddenly becomes the good guy here in this story when really he built his whole marriage on a lie. If you build on a weak foundation . . . it will come down.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Lavyrle is one of those gifted story tellers that keep you turning pages. Although I've enjoyed every book she's written, so far, Endearment and Home Song have been my favorites. I'm not alwyas looking for "the great American novel", and after a long day of work, I just want to be entertained - not challenged. Lavyrle tells wonderful stories and at the end of them all, you can't help but continue to think of the characters; how you might have handled the situation or what you might have said. Home Song posed the difficult question as to how an entire family was asked to handle news of infedelity, and a child that another woman bore, and will now have to be acknowledged both emotionally and financially. The end of the story cleaned up a lot like a one hour television drama, but I don't feel that in any way negated the rest of the book. Don't be afraid to purchase this one. It's a keeper.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book reads like a bad made-for-tv movie and was a complete waste of time. Spencer's grammatically shaky, over-emotional and adjective-laden prose made the book a pain to navigate and nearly impossible to enjoy, while her complete inability to draw a realistic human character forced the story into cliche after cliche. Her teenagers were wooden, drenched with sickly sweet kindness and school spirit and completely lacking any normal adolescent characteristics; her adults were erratic, frenzied and drawn without an ounce of realism.

I picked up this book at a used book sale and thought the story might have some interesting twists - there were none. I thought the plight of the characters, especially the principal's wife Claire, might resonate in some way - it did not. I suppose if nothing else, Home Song did evoke strong feelings in me as a reader: I was so angry with each of the characters and so bored by the non-existent plot that I couldn't wait to finish the book, review it and shelve it on the 'never to be touched again' pile.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Like most of Lavyrle Spencer's books, I had a tough time putting this one down. I do agree with the one reader that her portrayal of teenagers in this book is a bit unrealistic, and I had a difficult time warming up to the character of Claire. The character of Monica seemed better for the heroine than Claire, and I know this was not what the author intended. I absolutely loved the part of the book where Kent met his grandfather and great uncle, they were the best characters in the book by far. The ending also didn't sit quite right with me, I just don't think that it would be possible for everyone to be "friends" after what they went through, especially between Claire and Kent. But I thought that the story moved really well and I was always wondering what would happen next, which is what I look for in a good book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Eighteen years ago, onthe week of his marriage to his pregnant fiancée, Tom Gardner had aone night stand with Monica Arens. Now, a happily married man andfather of two, Tom's world is turned upside down when he meets the illegitimate son he never knew he had, Kent Arens, the product of that night so long. He loves his wife and his children with all is heart and is afraid that he will lose them when finding out about Kent.
HOME SONG is a wonderful story about a family's struggle to stay united and confront a problem that may well be a blessing. It is a magnificent read that I know you'll enjoy. Trust me! END
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I like to read for relazation after a busy day at work. This was my first Lavyrle Spencer book and was given to me by my wife as a Christmas present. Since I'm in my late 40's, I found the possibility of this happening very real. A couple who has been married 18 years suddenly finds out that the husband has an illegitimate son, he knew nothing about, that is the same age as one of his children. It's a story about how all involved handle, or mishandle, the situation. A wonderful story and I plan to read many more of her books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
Tom Gardner has the perfect life. He is the principal of the local High School, his wife Claire of eighteen years is a teacher there, and both of their teenage children are students there. Chelsea is a cheerleader and Robby the star quarter back. They are a devoted family and a pillar of the community. In Septemeber right before the school year is to begin, a woman and her son enter his office to discuss transfering from Texas. When Tom looks at Kent Arens, its like seeing himself 18 years of age. And when he learns the mother is Monica, the one-night-stand the night ,of his bachelor party, Tom's perfect world will now crumble apart and never be the same. This book is a very emotional, heartwrenching story. I got so emotionally involved in the story and characters. I had a very hard time putting it down and many times I found tears in my eyes. The characters were so real to me, I could feel thier pain, anger, sorrow and anguish. This is such a well written story of family, betrayal, acceptance and forgiveness.This story will stay with me for a long, long time. I would give it more stars if I could.
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