Friday, March 9, 2012

The Year We Left Home


Title:  The Year We Left Home
Author:  Jean Thomspon
Publication Information:  Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. 2011. 325 pages

Book Source:  I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book came as a paperback copy.

Favorite Quote:  "But he wasn't going to spend any more time thinking about all that [old country past], since what really counted was the life you made for yourself and the person you decided to be."

The Year We Left Home is the story of one family and the story of our country over a span of thirty years as seen through the eyes of these individuals. It is an episodic novel. Each chapter is told through the eyes of a different family member. With each chapter, we move forward in time and gain another perspective into this family and the times. The story starts in 1973 and brings us all the way to 2003.

The story starts in rural Iowa with a family descended from Norwegian settlers. The national/social issues presented through the different voices range from Vietnam and politics to the hippie movement and the women's movement. Within that context, we see personal issues such as the desire to sometimes leave our origins behind, the aging of parents, and a struggle between generations.

I enjoyed reading this book. The history is from a time we can relate to, and the family relationships are familiar as well. The story itself is not a linear progression but snapshots in time. Each snapshot can be viewed independently - almost like a short story - as a commentary on the time period. The continuity comes from the characters and the family story that develop throughout. Not a favorite book for me, but still an interesting one.

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