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The Year We Left Home: A Novel Paperback – February 7, 2012
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Everything We Keep: A Novel
On the day of her wedding, she buried her fiancé—and unearthed shocking secrets. Learn More
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From Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“An extraordinarily warm-hearted novel.” —Jonathan Dee, The New York Times Book Review
“The Year We Left Home plumbs the American heart with rigor and intensity, seamlessly connecting one family’s fortunes to those of the larger national community.” —Liza Nelson, O: The Oprah Magazine
“Startlingly good . . . You may forget that the characters don’t really exist, that the Iowa farm family so expertly drawn by the author never drew breath themselves.” —Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune
“Fantastic . . . Enormously satisfying . . . Thompson has a light, exquisite touch. . . . Rich, detailed, resonant, emotionally spot-on.” —Bill Eichenberger, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Enlightening and quietly brilliant . . . Thompson is a master at mining the most ridiculous of human foibles while never losing compassion for her flawed characters.” —Connie Ogle, The Miami Herald
“Wry and tender . . . Such is Thompson’s artistry that moments of everyday sorrow and nobility made me weep.” —John Repp, Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Told with extraordinary grace . . . The clan at the center of Jean Thompson’s spare, startlingly resonant new novel remain inextricably linked to the place that made them, even as they reach for lives richer in both geography and purpose.” —Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
“A smart, resonant novel.” —Boston Globe
“Powerful and darkly humorous . . . Thompson’s characters are sharply drawn and deeply familiar. Her dialogue is pitch-perfect.” —Laurie Hertzel, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Customer Reviews
The tale starts in 1973 at the wedding of the oldest daughter in the Erickson clan. As they all are celebrating this event the troubles that will plague the family for three decades is beginning. The bride, Anita wants to marry a local guy and raise a family in the town she grew up in. The next child in line, Ryan, watches his sister marry and is already planning his escape from the town he has grown to despise. At the wedding, Ryan runs into his cousin, Chip, who is a Vietnam veteran. A very mixed up individual who is about to show Ryan the attraction and the dangers of freedom. There is another son, Blake, still in school and not altogether interested in anything at the moment. Last, but definitely not least, the youngest daughter, Torrie, also dreaming of putting the hometown in her rear view mirror as she speeds out of town. Unfortunately, the path she chooses will lead to tragedy that will alter many plans. I didn't mention Mom and Dad. These are regular folks that work hard and take care of their family as best they can.
This story moves from 1973 to 2003, from the farms of Iowa to Chicago and a short time in Italy. It takes us through the horror of the Vietnam War, the crisis facing the farms and the economic highs and lows when there were many foreclosures on homes in the midwest when the large farms had to shut down. This wonderful story follows the Erickson family through thick and thin, wealth and poverty, victories and failures as they work their way through life with all it's ups and downs and try to find a place for themselves in a changing world.Read more ›
Now, in The Year We Left Home, Ms. Thompson leverages all her strengths and skills as a short-story writer and creates a sweeping and emotionally satisfying novel composed of interlocking, decade-spanning stories of a family in flux. As her grand theme, she takes on the universal quest for "home", exploring all the manifestations of that search.
The novel is bookended by two wars - the Vietnam War and the Iraqi War. It begins in 1973 when the Erickson family of Grenada, Iowa, gathers to celebrate the continuing of tradition with the marriage of the eldest daughter, Anita. As some family members - the parents, Anita and her new husband Jeff - get ready to take their place in pre-defined roles, others are restlessly searching for a way out of Iowa - notably, her brother Ryan.
As this fiercely American novel takes this family down the road of its personal setbacks and triumphs, the country, too, is going through its own weaving road: from war to peace to war again, through economic booms to heartbreaking farm crises, from conventional values to sweeping changes. Ryan reflects, "The Great State of Alienation. It stretched from sea to shining sea. Everybody in America is one of two things, either in or out. His wife was right, they'd worked so hard and were so proud to be on the outside of everything they'd grown up with. But they were inside of nothing but themselves."
As the family disperses, each must strive to get back to that central core, a place to feel at ease.Read more ›
This novel was a series of disjointed vignettes spanning 1973-2003, told in alternating points of view, that give us a snapshot into both the banal and the significant moments in the lives of the large extended Nordic, Lutheran, Erikson family who were born and raised in the rural Midwestern small town of Grenada, Iowa. Each child tries to "leave" in his or her own way, and the picture that emerges as each person tells their story is one of hopeful alienation and the pain of self discovery. It was all somewhat depressing. The tales related in each section reflect the events going on in each of the main characters' lives -- Anita, Ryan, Blake, Torrie -- but also involve their cousins, parents and other relatives and how they all are a part of a family that was "built to last" despite all the trials and tribulations. There are some unfinished stories that left me with questions about what happened "after" or how things ended up the way they did, but though the author sometimes picks up that story line again in a later chapter, some were left dangling. The brothers and sisters seemed to limp painfully toward adulthood, but there are a few triumphs amidst their struggles.
The last paragraph -- as one of the children sums up his analysis of his ancestral past and his hope for the future -- is absolutely one of the best parts of this book and one I will remember for a very long time. Any curious reader will simply have to get the book and read it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have been listening to this via audiobook for over 4 hours now Still waiting for something halfway interesting to happen. Read morePublished 4 months ago by I Luv Aussies
Reading Jean Thompson’s novel is much like paging through a family photo album that says “The Year We Left Home” on the cover. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Sharelle Moranville
Again, this novel is too narrative and thus quite tedious and boring. This reader didn't care
about the characters who were not credible.
It was an enjoyable read peppered with small things that are reminders to people who lived through that time.Published 5 months ago by c. florida
Jean Thompson is the finest stylist writing in America today, and this book is beautifully written. Not merely because of her ear for natural dialogue and clarity, but (yea! Read morePublished 6 months ago by Keith Otis Edwards