THIS IS HOME
By Lisa Duffy
Read by Renata Friedman and Emily Woo Zeller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
June 11, 2019
Length: 288 pages
Runtime: 8 hours and 29 minutes
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader’s copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
From the author of book club favorite The Salt House comes a deeply affecting novel about a teenage girl finding her voice and the military wife who moves in downstairs, united in their search for the true meaning of home.
Sixteen-year-old Libby Winters lives in Paradise, a seaside town north of Boston that rarely lives up to its name. After the death of her mother, she lives with her father, Bent, in the middle apartment of their triple decker home—Bent’s two sisters, Lucy and Desiree, live on the top floor. A former soldier turned policeman, Bent often works nights, leaving Libby under her aunts’ care. Shuffling back and forth between apartments—and the wildly different natures of her family—has Libby wishing for nothing more than a home of her very own.
Quinn Ellis is at a crossroads. When her husband John, who has served two tours in Iraq, goes missing back at home, suffering from PTSD he refuses to address, Quinn finds herself living in the first-floor apartment of the Winters house. Bent had served as her husband’s former platoon leader, a man John refers to as his brother, and despite Bent’s efforts to make her feel welcome, Quinn has yet to unpack a single box.
For Libby, the new tenant downstairs is an unwelcome guest, another body filling up her already crowded house. But soon enough, an unlikely friendship begins to blossom, when Libby and Quinn stretch and redefine their definition of family and home.
With gorgeous prose and a cast of characters that feel wholly real and lovably flawed, This Is Home is a nuanced and moving novel of finding where we belong. https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/This-Is-Home/Lisa-Duffy/9781508282846
This is not really a romance, although it has a love story, and it is not humorous, although some characters have senses of humor. It is definitely in the he family drama/contemporary women genre. It is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, although I did not have the patience for some of the characters. Some of those for whom I do not have patience just had annoying personalities; but for others, I believe my annoyance in the light of mental illness is the main theme. Veterans, even those who appear undamaged, come home with a lot of baggage. And, when soldiers already have the seeds of mental illness, when they are young and immature, the damage can allow suffering to continue without relief. Too often, men and women with “issues” are inducted into the military, and what they experience can bring the incipient illness to the fore. And, too often, PTSD is ignored and shrugged off. Others come back changed but not so damaged they cannot handle it.
The excellent writing and story bring this out without turning it into a “teaching moment.” Other people may get other things from the story this is just what really stood out for me.
There is something about love and loyalty, their redemptive power. And, there’s a lot about coming of age as one of the characters learns more about love and family her life experience has already shown. The family written here is of both blood and choice. Home is where you are loved and love others , even when those people are a little weird, or secretive.
The narration is fine: nice, and annoying characters, older people, and even teens are well voiced.
Sometimes, I don’t like books that delve into the darker sides of the human heart. I always think there is enough darkness in life, but this book showed me that our individual and societal attention is sometimes misplaced. And, the story also shows that love, military and or family fidelity, sometimes are not enough.
This book is about growth, and loss, and compassion, acceptance, loyalty. I learned about my reactions to people with “issues;” maybe it will lead to my own growth. It’s a start.