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Homecoming (High Risk Books) Paperback – June 1, 2000
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
From Publishers Weekly
When Katey Bruscke's bus arrives in her unnamed hometown, she finds the scenery blurred, "as if my hometown were itself surfacing from beneath a black ocean." At the conclusion of new novelist Gussoff's "day-in-the-life-of" first-person narrative, the reader feels equally blurred by the relentless dysfunction, unhappiness and drug-taking self-destruction of Katey, her family and friends. Katey receives a phone call from the police asking her to identify the body of her older sister Reese, an addict who has been shot in a "drug-related" crime. Leaving the police station, Katey takes the bus to the town she left two years earlierDbut she does not inform her family of Reese's death. In the next 24 hours, she reconnects with addicted, doomed high school friends, gets a new tattoo over her heart (a cameo), and visits her younger sister, Shay (after having slept with Shay's boyfriend). In repeated backstory scenarios, the childhood Katey appears destined for drug addiction: "Our family lived on pills. Our mother didn't believe in pain." Katie wonders "how the three of us didn't have major accidents, something disfiguring," then realizes that Reese's death is indeed such an event, and that she must save herself from a similar end. A painful expos of how we avoid feeling, this can be a demanding book for the reader. In the end, though, it works effectively as a prose poem about a nightmare passage in one woman's life. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
The narration jumps between past and present. Katey relives memories of growing up in a simultaneously distant and suffocating family, where Reese, her older sister, was the primary influence on her ideas of life and love. At the same time, she struggles with returning to her hometown and finding a way to tell her parents and younger sister that Reese has been murdered.
This is less a mystery than a modern bildungsroman, a tale of inner self-discovery. Gussoff's book is a frank and, at times, darkly comic look at what happens when life slips the tracks. Although we learn throughout the novel that Katey has never been a conventional girl, the conundrum that this book finds her in is a challenge that ultimately leaves the reader questioning his or her own reactions, feelings, and abilities.
Caren Gussoff gives us an excelently written story of a young girl's life that is full of details that have haunted her for a long time and still do it in the present. As others have mentioned, the plot evolves around the girl's siter's death and her inability to tell that to her parents. She soon understands that before she can do that, she has to find her own plays in the world and her siter's life.
The most important features of this story are the words and sentences it is told with. Gussoff surely knows how to handle them in just the right way, especially so for a newcomer. In some places, it is almost impossible to stare out of the window for a while, wondering how it is possible to convey such deep feelings merely through some ordinary and everyday expressions.
This book is certainly one of the best of the last year. Hopefully Caren will continue writing the same way or maybe even better.
So, curious, I ordered this book, and I really, well, liked it. "Liked" seems not quite accurate...it well, changed me somehow. I'd dare not say it was a perfect novel. Far from it, but I have never read a style quite like this author's, and the sadness was what got me. The loss was itself a character, a character with no lines or description, but one always there, a bare-naked and razor sharp presence. I will agree at times the prose was clumsy, and I think she may have traded clarity for style, but I read an interview with the author, and she is surprisingly young. I think her works will grow into something quite impressive, if Homecoming is any indicator. I think this slim volume is worth the struggle.
Gussoff's prose puts you there seeing, smelling, sensing what Katey does. Let her take you on this cathartic trip. I can't wait to see where Ms Gussoff takes us next!
Moving through Katey's old haunts, pain, and memory, Caren Gussoff's unsentimental tale explores both Reese's death and Katey's inability to share the news with her family.
A novel of curious power, where silence seldom remains on the page. I recommend it highly.