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Home by Marilynne Robinson

Wyma, January 6, 2010

When I began Home, I thought it might be boring: a spinster reluctantly returns to take care of her minister father; the neer-do-well brother makes a surprise visit. But these people won me over. I watched the sister, Glory, grow from childish jealousy and resentment of Jack to loving him as she did when they were children and trying to help him. Jack is like an animal who runs when you touch him. He pokes at others, but will not let them get too close. Yet, he is here, at home, and he works to prove his worthiness. There is much discussion of God, faith, goodness, and love among Jack, his father, and his father's best friend and fellow retired minister, John Ames. The resolution of their lives is not altogether happy, but it is good. After listening to Home, I turned to Gilead, Robinson's earlier book. What a lovely discovery that Gilead told the same story from the point of view of Ames. It is much more introspective, and is a revelation of much that went on below the surface of Home. It might have been instructive to read the books in the order they were written. But, I think sometimes ignorance allows a happy accident: it was such a vital experience hearing the books in reverse order that I'm glad I didn't know better.
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