Title: The Homecoming
Author: Stacie Ramey
Publication: November 1st 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Publisher in exchange for a honest review
Summary from Goodreads:
Forced to return to his estranged family, John discovers how hard it is to truly go home.
It’s been a year since John lost his girlfriend, Leah, to suicide. Living with his uncle keeps his mind from the tragedy and his screwed up family-until he gets into trouble and a judge sends him back home. With a neglectful mother and abusive brother, John’s homecoming is far from happy.
As he tries to navigate and repair the relationships he abandoned years ago, Emily, the girl next door, is the only bright spot. She’s sweet and smart and makes him think his heart may finally be healing. But tragedy isn’t far away, and John must soon face an impossible decision: save his family or save himself.
The Homecoming was a detailed adventure through the downward spiral that often follows grief. It illustrates the vivid reality that “no, everything is not okay”, and it does so in a way that makes it impossible to escape from. Death is horrible. Loosing someone you love is horrible. Despite all the well wishes and counseling you might receive, that hole they loved one now lost leaves in your chest is something nearly impossible to plug – so what happens when that hole threatens to consume you? The Homecoming focuses on what happens when that gap in your heart pulls you too far under to breathe, at least until you find something to keep yourself going again.
John is a trouble maker – obviously. Grief is no excuse for what he got himself into a certain things he did, but it does add a layer which creates the possibility of sympathy. I did sympathize with him, I really did. What he went through, what his entire family went through and is going through, is horrible. I don’t blame John for his behavior, but I do not condone it, either. Having him as the narrator propelled this emotional roller coaster of a read in a way that only John could. It highlighted the desperate undertones this entire story drives itself on. Having John’s voice be the one we, the readers, hear and rely on complicated the story in ways it desperately needed. It showed John’s complexity, for one. As a character, he could easily have come off as whiny and “woe is me”, but that isn’t him at all. He has his moments, sure, but so do we all. The highlight of The Homecoming was easily John’s relationship with Livy, his younger sister. He cares about her, he cared for her when their parents basically went off the deep end. He tries so hard to be the best brother he can be, to be the best example he can be for his younger sister. As an older sibling myself, I found this to be the most compelling part of the story. I would read this all over again just to relive that relationship.
The Homecoming, in my opinion, is very character driven. There isn’t a lot of doing, rather, there is a lot of subtle development in the plot that comes about through various character driven interactions. John and Livy, John and Emily, John’s mother and Ryan, etc. I think the fact that the book was reliant on character only helped it in the long run. It can often go both ways, but in the case of The Homecoming, the characters were a home run. Each and every one of them felt real, developed, and like they mattered. The characters were all pieces in a puzzle, each piece matched its jagged edges with another.
Overall, The Homecoming is a fantastic read that will take you on an emotional journey you could potentially have to mentally prepare yourself for. It isn’t easy, especially if you have dealt with losing someone you love. The Homecoming effortlessly pulls you in and is quite ready to drown you beneath the weight of its amazing story. It might be hard, but it is well worth it in the end.