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The year we left home
Jean Thompson
Adult Fiction THOMPSO

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Bookended by two wars-Vietnam and Iraq-Thompson's third novel (after the collection Do Not Deny Me) sketches the travails of an Iowa family over three decades. Matriarch Audrey neatly sums up the episodic novel's grand theme: "she'd been born into one world, hopeful and normal, and now she lived in another, full of sadness and failure." The novel opens as oldest daughter Anita, the beauty of the family, celebrates her marriage. Over the years, however, Anita confronts dissatisfaction with herself and disillusionment with her pompous husband. Her younger brother, Ryan, a high school senior as the novel opens, longs to escape his rural roots, dating a hippie poet and majoring in political science before realizing that the farmers who came before him might hold more relevance than he'd imagined. Cousin Chip comes back from Vietnam troubled and aimless, his wanderings from Seattle to Reno, Nev., to Veracruz, Mexico, offering a parallel to the spiritual restlessness all the other characters feel. Told from the point of view of more than a half-dozen characters, the vignettes that make up the narrative are generally powerful in isolation, but as a whole fail to develop into anything more than a series of snapshots of a family touched by time and tragedy. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

National Book Award finalist Thompson's third novel (after City Boy and Wide Blue Yonder) spans over three decades as it explores the subtle changes in one family from small-town Iowa. The novel opens as oldest daughter Anita marries a banker "outsider" from Colorado, hoping only to start a family as her younger brother, Ryan, idealistically dreams of escaping to college. Their cousin, Chip, returns home from Vietnam damaged but still an eccentric, roving restlessly from Seattle to Mexico. Matriarch Audrey wants only happiness for her brood, which is ultimately derailed by Ryan's growing dissatisfaction, Anita's failing marriage, and youngest sister Torrie's life-changing accident. Verdict In this episodic novel told from multiple viewpoints, the individual scenes are powerful and are imbued with great detail. Yet, as a whole, these episodes do not develop into more than scattered chapters in the life of an ordinary family. Nonetheless, this will appeal to readers of literary fiction.-Mara Dabrishus, Ursuline Coll. Lib., Pepper Pike, OH (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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