Home by Marilynne Robinson
After being so captivated by the writing and characters so generously gifted to us by Robinson in Gilead, I was soooo looking forward to moving on to Home. It didn't quite deliver what I was initially looking for (or readalong partner for that matter. She couldn't even bring herself to finish). But it gave me a few things I didn't even realize I wanted.
I loved getting more insight into the motivations of a character that had so emotionally tormented the narrator in Gilead. Robinson made Jack. a previously vague and mysterious element in Reverend Ames' tale, a bit more real and tangible personality. However, I don't feel that she fully accomplished the empathy she set out to instill in the reader on the topic of Reverend Boughton's wayward son. I went back and forth between thinking this was a deliberate writing decision and thinking Robinson just didn't quite "get" Jack herself... at least not enough with which to focus the entire second book.
I definitely enjoyed seeing Boughton through the lens of his children, as opposed to his lifelong friend Ames. The same character felt so different between Gilead and Home, but I believe that Robinson intended that... it provided some commentary on how one person can be two completely different people to the world. Our family and friends are never a true mirror for us. The love and knowledge they bring to their view of us always impacts (both in positive and negative ways) how they see us as opposed to what the rest of the world sees. The question we have to ask is... which version is the true version? And how do we reconcile what our family loves about us and what the world sees as our failings?
I've seen a lot of feedback on the second book of the Gilead series that seems to agree with my overall experience with the book. However, I'm holding out hope because I've heard nothing but incredible things about Lila. Then again, as any reader knows, usually series contain a strong start, tend to get week during book two or three and then finish strong. I'm looking forward to Lila's strong finish... because Lila is already a fascinating character as revealed to us through the eyes of Jack and Reverend Ames. She has secrets and I'm ready to hear them!
"Hailed as "incandescent," "magnificent," and "a literary miracle" ("Entertainment Weekly"), hundreds of thousands of readers were enthralled by Marilynne Robinson's "Gilead." Now Robinson returns with a brilliantly imagined retelling of the prodigal son parable, set at the same moment and in the same Iowa town as "Gilead." The Reverend Boughton's hell-raising son, Jack, has come home after twenty years away. Artful and devious in his youth, now an alcoholic carrying two decades worth of secrets, he is perpetually at odds with his traditionalist father, though he remains his most beloved child. As Jack tries to make peace with his father, he begins to forge an intense bond with his sister Glory, herself returning home with a broken heart and turbulent past. "Home "is a luminous and healing book about families, family secrets, and faith from one of America's most beloved and acclaimed authors.