The Year We Left Home
By Jean Thompson
(Simon & Schuster, Paperback, 9781439175903, 352pp.)
Publication Date: February 7, 2012
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A New York Times bestseller in hardcover, The Year We Left Home is National Book Award finalist Jean Thompson’s mesmerizing, decades-spanning saga of one ordinary American family that captures the turbulent history of the country at large.
Named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a People magazine “Pick of the Week,” and an Indie Next and Midwest Connections selection, The Year We Left Home is the career-defining novel that Jean Thompson’s 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.
Stretching from the early 1970s in the Iowa farmlands to suburban Chicago and across the map of contemporary America, 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 and richly told, this is a vivid and moving meditation on our continual pursuit of happiness and an incisive exploration of the national character.
Jean Thompson is the author of the short story collections Do Not Deny Me, Throw Like a Girl, and Who Do You Love, a 1999 National Book Award finalist for fiction, and the novels City Boy and Wide Blue Yonder, a New York Times Notable Book and Chicago Tribune Best Fiction selection. Visit her at JeanThompsonOnline.com.
- Early on in the novel, Ryan muses "what really counted was the life you made for yourself, and the person you decided to be." (p. 11) Does this prove to be true? How does this play out in his life, and in the lives of his family members? How does this concept change for him?
“Wise and absorbing, this is one not to miss.” —People
“An extraordinarily warm-hearted novel.” —Jonathan Dee, The New York Times Book Review
“The Year We Left Home plumbs the American heart with rigor and intensity, seamlessly connecting one family’s fortunes to those of the larger national community.” —Liza Nelson, O: The Oprah Magazine
“Startlingly good . . . You may forget that the characters don’t really exist, that the Iowa farm family so expertly drawn by the author never drew breath themselves.” —Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune
“Fantastic . . . Enormously satisfying . . . Thompson has a light, exquisite touch. . . . Rich, detailed, resonant, emotionally spot-on.” —Bill Eichenberger, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Enlightening and quietly brilliant . . . Thompson is a master at mining the most ridiculous of human foibles while never losing compassion for her flawed characters.” —Connie Ogle, The Miami Herald
“Wry and tender . . . Such is Thompson’s artistry that moments of everyday sorrow and nobility made me weep.” —John Repp, Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Told with extraordinary grace . . . The clan at the center of Jean Thompson’s spare, startlingly resonant new novel remain inextricably linked to the place that made them, even as they reach for lives richer in both geography and purpose.” —Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
“A smart, resonant novel.” —Boston Globe
“Powerful and darkly humorous . . . Thompson’s characters are sharply drawn and deeply familiar. Her dialogue is pitch-perfect.” —Laurie Hertzel, Minneapolis Star Tribune