I’m a creature of reviews if I’m not familiar with an author, and the raves for Jean Thompson’s novel were too good to ignore. Ditto the National Book Award nomination.
I was not disappointed.
Talk about a broad canvas. The story, about the members of an Iowa family, covers over 30 years of American culture – from our wars to our sexual mores, from sibling rivalry to romantic travails. It’s not my usual jam – i.e. it’s fairly depressing what happens to the characters as opposed to a laugh riot – but Thompson is a terrific storyteller and I couldn’t put the book down no matter how many crises were thrown at me.
I love novels that transport me, that have a sense of place, that give the characters a distinctive voice, that have a plot with twists and turns rather than one that slows to a crawl in order to showcase the author’s flair for language. “The Year We Left Home” fulfilled all of my requirements for a book I couldn’t wait to get back to each night.