Tuesday, May 17, 2011

THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME: REVIEW AND BONUS GIVEAWAY ENTRIES

 
 GIVEAWAY ENDED 
THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME
BY JEAN THOMPSON

MORE ABOUT THE BOOK--PRAISE:
To read a synopsis of the story, be sure and check out the first post for THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME HERE and read the Author Interview while there and you can enter for more ways to win!

“Startlingly resonant...lovely...told with extraordinary grace. A–”
-- Entertainment Weekly

“A masterful wide-angle portrait of an Iowa family over three decades...In Thompson's unforgettable, offbeat novel, an extended Iowa family struggles for emotional and economic stability over three decades, beginning with a modest Lutheran wedding in 1983 and ending with a bittersweet homecoming...Thompson has crafted a dazzling book that works both as an epic page-turner and a series of tightly focused, chronologically arranged stories...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

"Thompson’s pithy humor, redolent details, and knowing compassion have never been sharper or more resounding as her characters’ follies and struggles reveal depthless truths about men and women, families and vocations, the lure of away and the gravitational pull of home.”
-- Donna Seaman, Booklist

“Poignant...compelling...gut-wrenching and honest.”
-- Bookpage

“In the same vein as Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, The Year We Left Home unpacks the quotidian stories of a family with such mindfulness and attention, the result is both devastating and perfect…She’s a hell of a writer, with descriptions…sharp and true and bizarre…Thompson’s close-to-the-ground details, in all of her fiction, are genius.”
-- Bust Magazine

“This compelling chronicle of the subtle and grand departures that constitute a life is alive with incident and told by a cast of likable characters who are as uniquely drawn as they are recognizable.”
-- More Magazine

“In Thompson's engaging style, each character has a life filled with much humor, insight, reconciliation and understanding…Thompson pulls the reader into this novel and keeps us hoping for the best for her characters, as she chronicles events and shows us their interior lives…told in a wry, humorous authentic manner, filled with insight and beautifully nuanced.”
-- Shelf Awareness

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jean Thompson is the author of the upcoming novel The Year We Left Home (Simon & Schuster), the acclaimed short fiction collections Do Not Deny Me (Simon & Schuster, 2009) and Throw Like a Girl (Simon & Schuster, 2007) as well as the novel City Boy; the short story collection Who Do You Love, a 1999 National Book Award finalist for fiction; and the novel Wide Blue Yonder, a New York Times Notable Book and Chicago Tribune Best Fiction selection for 2002.

Her short fiction has been published in many magazines and journals, including The New Yorker, and been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and Pushcart Prize. Jean's work has been praised by Elle Magazine as "bracing and wildly intelligent writing that explores the nature of love in all its hidden and manifest dimensions."

Jean's other books include the short story collections The Gasoline Wars and Little Face, and the novels My Wisdom and The Woman Driver.

Jean has been the recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, among other accolades, and taught creative writing at the University of Illinois--Champaign/ Urbana, Reed College, Northwestern University, and many other colleges and universities. For more about Jean, visit her at www.jeanthompsononline.com

MY REVIEW/THOUGHTS:
Fans of Jean Thompson have eagerly awaited her new book, THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME and will not be disappointed as she takes them on a journey through American history spanning thirty years from 1973 to 2003. The journey is narrated through the lives of one family, the Ericksons, and all those characters who they meet  along the way. They are a family in the Midwest who exemplify all we tend to think about that area of the country during that period of time; complete with large God fearing families struggling on failing farms with the nearby small towns and their dilapidated and/or closed shops facing extinction.

Also with the Erickson family, comes one more trait found in those Midwest families, and all the rest of us for the most part, and that is children whose main goal is to get out; whether it be just out of the house or more so, out of town (that grass is always greener even in a drought.). The town in this case is Grenada, Iowa, and the first chapter is set in the year 1973.  Jean Thompson takes readers through the years with each chapter by following the children in the Erickson home which include Anita, the eldest, Ryan, Torrie, and Blake. However, a cousin, Chip, also plays an equal role in Thompson’s tale.

With Anita one would think we see the least resistance as the book opens and she is getting married. Her dream is to have a family right there in her hometown and marries  a corporate type who turns out to have not much of a heart but a very hearty drinking problem. Ryan, is more than ready to graduate and go off to college somewhere very far from Grenada and the Erickson clan. Chip and Ryan have a telling encounter right away, with Chip being the “bad seed” of the family and who has just returned from the Vietnam War. Torrie is the rebellious daughter and that rebellion costs her and the family dearly later on, while Blake comes on strongly in the last part of the story. As often happens, their mother Audrey is the tie that binds but also thinks she can do it best by feeding everyone and her world revolves around these children. Randy, the solid, steadfast father has his opinion but is easier to tolerate than Audrey especially as he ages and years go by.

Each chapter in THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME is told from a different Erikson offspring’s point of view and skips a few years between as well. At first, I had to look back to what the year had been to see how much time had passed but quickly became aware and noted it as I started each chapter. What is phenomenal to me about Thompson’s writing is that years would pass and the character would change between chapters and yet I was never lost. She writes so eloquently that reading each new chapter allowed you to find out what transpired over the “missing” years with her flawless talent.  I wasn’t sure with the first couple of chapters if she was going back to catch up and suddenly I realized she didn’t need to because I easily knew just what had happened. As you read her smooth narration, you are so wrapped up in these people’s lives that you read on to find out what will happen next only to get caught up in the next character in the following chapter.

As the characters grew and the story moved on, the ending is one that was most satisfying and I think appropriate. Loves and lives came and went, dreams were born and died. Twists and turns in the long run turned out mostly for the better once they navigated around a heartbreak or two. I had favorite characters as the book went on and that kept changing until the end. I realized because although things will change, we can also find that they are very much the same in the long run and like the old saying, you can always come home. THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME by Jean Thompson will make you glad that you took the journey as these characters left home, as well as satisfy you when they returned.
 
GIVEAWAY

THANKS TO MARGARET AND MY GOOD
FRIENDS AT SIMON & SCHUSTER, I HAVE
3 COPIES OF THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME
TO GIVE AWAY...DON'T FORGET TO VISIT
THE FIRST POST WITH THE AUTHOR
INTERVIEW HERE TO GET MORE ENTRIES!
 
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GIVEAWAY ENDS AT
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130 comments:

Karen B said...

Great review! I like that the chapters are told by different characters.

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Karen B said...

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lag123 said...

Your review left me wanting to know more about what happens. I grew up in a small town and my ambition was to "get away". After I married and had children, I wished that they too had had the opportunity to grow up in a small town. Thanks for the great review. I can relate.

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lag123 said...

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debbie said...

I thought your review was excellent. I can totally relate to growing up in a small town and wanting to leave. I am glad the book sounds like it is very well written. I would love to read it.
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debbie said...

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Tore said...

I am a follower and email subscriber. Please enter me in contest. I really want to read this book. Tore923@aol.com

traveler said...

I am intrigued and captivated with this book. thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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petite said...

I enjoyed the review and know that this book would be memorable. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

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Ms. Appel said...

I love that the chapters are told by different characters and that the book seems very character driven. I'm looking forward to reading this. I hope I win!

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Colleen Turner said...

Thank you for the review! I love the idea of each chapter of the novel progressing through the years with alternating narrators. I think this would really help round out the story for all characters.
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Colleen Turner said...

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Margie said...

Nice review! It made me want to read the book. I like family dramas, particularly when different chapters are voiced by different characters. This helps you know the characters better and gets you more into the story.
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Carol N Wong said...

In review, you talked about the children getting out of the town. That is my experience,also, there are not very many people left to do the farming. My mother was the eleventh child of 12 and of those 12,
only one stuck with the farming. I love that you noticed the smooth narration. I have tried to read books that didn't flow and were difficult to remember who was who and I usually gave up.

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com


CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol N Wong said...

My Twitter name is Carolee888 and I tweeted:

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Carol N Wong said...

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Karen B said...

Entered FAITH.

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~Enamored Soul~ said...

I absolutely loved the review, and am extremely intrigued that each chapter happens to be in the form of a different perspective of a different Erickson family member. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

~Hira~
GFC Follower: ~Enamored Soul~
Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com
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~Enamored Soul~ said...

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~Hira~
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Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com
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~Enamored Soul~ said...

I've entered the "Secret Daughter" Giveaway.

~Hira~
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Twitter: @inluvwithbookz

~Enamored Soul~ said...

I entered the "Summer in the South" Giveaway.

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~Enamored Soul~ said...

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mamabunny13 said...

I like that the story span over a 30 year time period
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Linda Kish said...

This sounds like an interesting story.

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bison61 said...

good review I like that the book is told by different characters

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Karen B said...

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Pamela Keener said...

I love your review it makes me want to read the book right now.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
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bloomerbear said...

I thought your review was great and insightful..I would like to read this book because I don't see too many books based in the 1980's unless they are and I missed it


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