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The Year We Left Home

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The Year We Left Home Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Over the course of a thirty-year career, Jean Thompson has been celebrated by critics as "a writer of extraordinary intelligence and sensitivity" (O, The Oprah Magazine), "an American Alice Munro" (The Wall Street Journal), and "one of our most lucid and insightful writers" (San Francisco Chronicle). Her peers have been no less vocal, from Jennifer Egan ("bracing...boldly unconventional") to David Sedaris ("if there are 'Jean Thompson characters,' they're us, and never have we been as articulate and worthy of compassion").

Now, in The Year We Left Home, Thompson brings together all of her talents to deliver the career-defining novel her admirers have been waiting for: a sweeping and emotionally powerful story of a single American family during the tumultuous final decades of the twentieth century. It begins in 1973 when the Erickson family of Grenada, Iowa, gathers for the wedding of their eldest daughter, Anita. Even as they celebrate, the fault lines in the family emerge. The bride wants nothing more than to raise a family in her hometown, while her brother Ryan watches restlessly from the sidelines, planning his escape. He is joined by their cousin Chip, an unpredictable, war-damaged loner who will show Ryan both the appeal and the perils of freedom. Torrie, the Ericksons' youngest daughter, is another rebel intent on escape, but the choices she makes will bring about a tragedy that leaves the entire family changed forever.

Stretching from the early 1970s in the Iowa farmlands to suburban Chicago to the coast of contemporary Italy — and moving through the Vietnam War's aftermath, the farm crisis, the numerous economic booms — and busts — The Year We Left Home follows the Erickson siblings as they confront prosperity and heartbreak, setbacks and triumphs, and seek their place in a country whose only constant seems to be breathtaking change. Ambitious, richly told, and fiercely American, this is a vivid and moving meditation on our continual pursuit of happiness and an incisive exploration of the national character.

Review:

"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)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Review:

"Dazzling...Unforgettable...A masterful wide-angle portrait of an Iowa family over three decades....Thompson's ability to put these characters empathically on the page, in their special setting, over an extended period of years, with just the right dose of dark humor, rivals Richard Russo's....The novel is a powerful reflection on middle American life — on the changes wrought by the passing years and the values that endure." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

“Jean Thompson writes with both sensitivity and intelligence, from a place of deep compassion for her characters and the world in which they live.” O, The Oprah Magazine

Review:

“Few fiction writers working today have more successfully rendered the sensation of solid ground suddenly melting away, pinpointing that instant when the familiar present is swallowed up by an always encroaching past or voided future.” The New York Times Book Review

Review:

“Precisely the kind of beautifully crafted, intelligent, imaginative writing that serious readers crave....Each sentence deserves to be appreciated.” USA Today

Review:

“One of our most astute diagnosticians of contemporary experience, conflict, unhappiness, and regret.” The Boston Globe

Synopsis:

The Year We Left Home chronicles the lives the Erickson family as they come of age in 1970s and '80s America.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

janmah51, January 9, 2012 (view all comments by janmah51)
This story takes place from the early 1970's to present day. It follows the Erickson family though all their times, good and bad. it is set on the farms of Iowa, also Chicago and some time in Italy.
At first, I found the format, told in vignettes that skip around in time, annoying. After a time I was able to ignore the time shifting and just relax and enjoy the family saga. A good read, an excellent choice for book clubs, it is sure to generate a lot of discussion.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Nanax2, June 3, 2011 (view all comments by Nanax2)
I was fortunate enough to get an ARC through Goodreads.com and am I happy I did. This is a wonderful novel told through the eyes of an Iowan family. The book covers a 30 year span and allows the reader to know the characters very well. While it would appear that there is nothing so mundane as the affairs of a rural family from middle America, this is a false stereotype. The writing is outstanding. Jean Thompson has the ability to polish true down to its core brilliance. I found myself stopping to appreciate the beauty of her thoughts and words. This is a highly recommended book.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
chorne, May 16, 2011 (view all comments by chorne)
An extremely intriguing tale of a family in the small town of Granada, Iowa during thirty years of their lives. It's a fine story with much humor, striking details and pity for some of the characters.

The tale starts in 1973 at the wedding of the oldest daughter in the Erickson clan. As they all are celebrating this event the troubles that will plague the family for three decades is beginning. The bride, Anita wants to marry a local guy and raise a family in the town she grew up in. The next child in line, Ryan, watches his sister marry and is already planning his escape from the town he has grown to despise. At the wedding, Ryan runs into his cousin, Chip, who is a Vietnam veteran. A very mixed up individual who is about to show Ryan the attraction and the dangers of freedom. There is another son, Blake, still in school and not altogether interested in anything at the moment. Last, but definitely not least, the youngest daughter, Torrie, also dreaming of putting the hometown in her rear view mirror as she speeds out of town. Unfortunately, the path she chooses will lead to tragedy that will alter many plans. I didn't mention Mom and Dad. These are regular folks that work hard and take care of their family as best they can.

This story moves from 1973 to 2003, from the farms of Iowa to Chicago and a short time in Italy. It takes us through the horror of the Vietnam War, the crisis facing the farms and the economic highs and lows when there were many foreclosures on homes in the midwest when the large farms had to shut down. This wonderful story follows the Erickson family through thick and thin, wealth and poverty, victories and failures as they work their way through life with all it's ups and downs and try to find a place for themselves in a changing world.

This novel was a real page turner and there is so much the reader will recognize in their own lives and will commiserate with this family. The "Pursuit of Happiness" takes on a whole new meaning. The author gives us a three decade long epic of an ordinary American family who lived their lives quietly and hopefully and went through all the trials and tribulations that face us all on a daily basis.
I was very impressed with this book and recommend it to all readers.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781439175880
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Subject:
Literary
Author:
Thompson, Jean
Subject:
Family life
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:
20110531
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.25 in

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Family Life

The Year We Left Home
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 336 pages Simon & Schuster - English 9781439175880 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Review" by , "Dazzling...Unforgettable...A masterful wide-angle portrait of an Iowa family over three decades....Thompson's ability to put these characters empathically on the page, in their special setting, over an extended period of years, with just the right dose of dark humor, rivals Richard Russo's....The novel is a powerful reflection on middle American life — on the changes wrought by the passing years and the values that endure."
"Review" by , “Jean Thompson writes with both sensitivity and intelligence, from a place of deep compassion for her characters and the world in which they live.”
"Review" by , “Few fiction writers working today have more successfully rendered the sensation of solid ground suddenly melting away, pinpointing that instant when the familiar present is swallowed up by an always encroaching past or voided future.”
"Review" by , “Precisely the kind of beautifully crafted, intelligent, imaginative writing that serious readers crave....Each sentence deserves to be appreciated.”
"Review" by , “One of our most astute diagnosticians of contemporary experience, conflict, unhappiness, and regret.”
"Synopsis" by , The Year We Left Home chronicles the lives the Erickson family as they come of age in 1970s and '80s America.
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