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Sing Them Home: A Novelby Stephanie Kallos
Though Stephanie Kallos explores familiar themes — like loss, grief, and family ties — this refreshingly imaginative novel will have you seeing them all anew. Her prose is lyrical and precise; her characters are as alive and idiosyncratic as flesh-and-blood people; and the plot is tightly woven and lovingly told. Sing Them Home is truly a gift to its readers.
"We all have stories that define our pasts, that are retold until they become a kind of mythology. This is never more true than in childhood, when our memories are mutable and tinged with our still-present belief in the fantastic. From this trope, Stephanie Kallos has spun Sing Them Home, a resonant and imaginative novel that covers familiar themes of loss, grief, and family bonds, but refreshes and enlivens them with serendipity, fate, and a touch of magic." Sheila Ashdown, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
Sing Them Home is a moving portrait of three siblings who have lived in the shadow of unresolved grief since their mother's disappearance when they were children.
Everyone in Emlyn Springs knows the story of Hope Jones, the physician's wife whose big dreams for their tiny town were lost along with her in the tornado of 1978. For Hope's three young children, the stability of life with their preoccupied father, and with Viney, their mother's spitfire best friend, is no match for Hope's absence. Larken, the eldest, is now an art history professor who seeks in food an answer to a less tangible hunger; Gaelan, the son, is a telegenic weatherman who devotes his life to predicting the unpredictable; and the youngest, Bonnie, is a self-proclaimed archivist who combs roadsides for clues to her mother's legacy, and permission to move on.
When they're summoned home after their father's death, each sibling is forced to revisit the childhood tragedy that has defined their lives. With breathtaking lyricism, wisdom, and humor, Kallos explores the consequences of protecting those we love. Sing Them Home is a magnificent tapestry of lives connected and undone by tragedy, lives poised — unbeknownst to the characters — for redemption.
"Kallos's (Broken for You) enthralling second novel takes the reader by storm as Hope Jones, Nebraska mother of three, is whisked away by a 1978 tornado, her body never found. The novel opens 25 years later, when Hope's children — grown but not grown up — gather for their father's funeral after he's killed by a lightning strike. Llewelyn's death is one of many quandaries haunting his children: daughter Larken, an overweight professor beset by fear of flying; son Gaelan, a television weatherman with too many women in his life; and the youngest, Bonnie, who stays in Emlyn Springs working odd jobs. Alvina 'Viney' Closs, Hope's best friend, also has issues to resolve. Themes of family bonds and conflicts, secrets and sorrows also marked Kallos's debut, and this time she weaves in an idiosyncratic view of the role of the dead in the lives of the living, sharp takes on business, academic and sexual politics, and a palpable empathy for small Midwestern towns. This novel will find a welcome audience in anyone who has experienced grief, struggled with family ties or, most importantly, appreciates blossoming talent." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"With the same beauty and lyricism of her first novel...Kallos stitches together a colorful patchwork of memories and images, creating a rich narrative fabric that develops and changes as it passes through each character's hands." Booklist
"[A] fresh, invigorating novel....Kallos tenderly shows us [her characters'] failings as they stumble, in a realistic and satisfying manner, toward better selves. Highly recommended." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"With empathy and wit, Kallos weaves together the stories of the living and the dead, creating a world in which love trumps loss and faith can summon redemption. The result is a magical novel that even cynics will close with a smile." People
"Not since the Wizard of Oz has a tornado been used to such potent literary effect....Dorothy may have thought that there’s no place like home, but what happens when there's no house left at the old address, and no real parent figure to go home to? The Jones siblings take a further step down the road to enlightenment: They learn that home is where the heart is....Kallos performs ample wizardry in blending both tears and quirky humor in this tale of lost souls." Seattle Times
"This novel about three siblings and the loss of their mother in a tornado twenty-five years ago is a sublime exploration of family ties and secrets. Sing Them Home is a book you'll never want to finish."Marilyn Dahl, Shelf-Awareness "Pick of the Year"
"A compelling portrait of three adult siblings struggling to come to terms with their father's sudden death....Kallos writes with sympathetic insight into the quirks of each of the survivors, bringing her readers a family saga tinged with mysticism, humor and pathos, and peopled with characters not soon forgotten." Bookpage
"Broken for You was a personal favorite of mine back in 2004 when it first came out, and I fell similarly in love with the characters, place and story of Sing Them Home." Andy Lillich, University of Oregon Bookstore
With her bestselling debut novel, Broken for You, Kallos established herself as a writer of uncommon "wisdom and soulfulness" (Sue Monk Kidd). Sing Them Home is a magnificent tapestry of lives connected and undone by tragedy, lives poised — unbeknownst to the characters — for redemption.
About the Author
Stephanie Kallos spent twenty years in the theater as an actress and teacher, and her short fiction has been nominated for both a Raymond Carver Award and a Pushcart Prize. She is the author of the highly-acclaimed novel Broken for You, which won the 2005 Pacific Northwest Bookseller Association Award and was selected by Sue Monk Kidd for Today's Book Club, later becoming a national bestseller.
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