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From National Book Award finalist Jean Thompson comes a mesmerizing, decades-spanning saga of one ordinary American family—proud, flawed, hopeful— whose story simultaneously captures the turbulent history of the country at large.

Over the course of a thirty-year career, Jean Thompson has been celebrated by critics as “a writer of extraordinary intelligence and sensitivity” (O, The Oprah Magazine), “an American Alice Munro” (The Wall Street Journal), and “one of our most lucid and insightful writers” (San Francisco Chronicle). Her peers have been no less vocal, from Jennifer Egan (“bracing...boldly unconventional”) to David Sedaris (“if there are ‘Jean Thompson characters,’ they’re us, and never have we been as articulate and worthy of compassion”).

Now, in The Year We Left Home, Thompson brings together all of her talents to deliver the career-defining novel her 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. It begins in 1973 when the Erickson family of Grenada, Iowa, gathers for the wedding of their eldest daughter, Anita. Even as they celebrate, the fault lines in the family emerge. The bride wants nothing more than to raise a family in her hometown, while her brother Ryan watches restlessly from the sidelines, planning his escape. He is joined by their cousin Chip, an unpredictable, war-damaged loner who will show Ryan both the appeal and the perils of freedom. Torrie, the Ericksons’ youngest daughter, is another rebel intent on escape, but the choices she makes will bring about a tragedy that leaves the entire family changed forever.

Stretching from the early 1970s in the Iowa farmlands to suburban Chicago to the coast of contemporary Italy—and moving through the Vietnam War’s aftermath, the farm crisis, the numerous economic boomsand busts—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, richly told, and fiercely American, this is a vivid and moving meditation on our continual pursuit of happiness and an incisive exploration of the national character.

Topics: Iowa, Midwestern America, 1970s, Family, American Author, Siblings, and Panoramic

Published: Simon & Schuster on
ISBN: 9781439175910
List price: $3.99
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Written as a series of short stories all involving members of the same family ins small tow Iowa. the oldest daughter marries a man that is an alcoholic. the oldest son stays in town and struggles to run his own contracting business, another son strikes it rich in the tech boom after trying grad school for awhile, and the youngest daughter is disabled from a car accident her senior year of high school. great choice for AIR 2013. this rings very true.more
If I could give this 4 1/2 stars, I would. About 1/2 way through I was marveling at this book, and thinking maybe it was the book of the year, but the final 75pp or so flagged.

In any case, this is a wonderful multi-generational yarn, that focuses on particular family events from the early 70s to the 2000s. The characters are vivid. The events are recognizable but surprising.

The setting is Iowa (seems to be around Ames), and Thompson does a great job evoking the dutiful and plain life of the farmers, before industrialized / corporatized farming takes over.

more
The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson made a lot of sense to me. OK, what did I mean by that? This book is the story of the Erickson family living in a small town, Grenada in Iowa from 1973 to 1998. It also followed the life of a cousin named Chip. It reflected the religion,cultare of the area and the times. The chapters alternated with the different persons of the family who left home and those who didn't. Being from Indiana, I can relate to hard working farm people like Aunt Martha and Norm. The book opens with the preparations of a funeral. Funerals and weddings and sometimes family reunions bring those who left home back. I am familiar with the local view that the outside world is a bit weird and scary. Each character in this book has a traumatic event in their life and the book and you follow the character to see what they do after that. To me, this is true life, how many of us go through life without something terrible happening? I don't think that there has to be humor in this book. The real story is how the characters coped with what their challenges that beset them.I thought this was a true and honest book. I recommend it to everyone who likes to read about families, especially in the Midwest.more
I didn't like this book much...and I don't even really remember it even though it's only been a few weeks since I read it!more

Reviews

Written as a series of short stories all involving members of the same family ins small tow Iowa. the oldest daughter marries a man that is an alcoholic. the oldest son stays in town and struggles to run his own contracting business, another son strikes it rich in the tech boom after trying grad school for awhile, and the youngest daughter is disabled from a car accident her senior year of high school. great choice for AIR 2013. this rings very true.more
If I could give this 4 1/2 stars, I would. About 1/2 way through I was marveling at this book, and thinking maybe it was the book of the year, but the final 75pp or so flagged.

In any case, this is a wonderful multi-generational yarn, that focuses on particular family events from the early 70s to the 2000s. The characters are vivid. The events are recognizable but surprising.

The setting is Iowa (seems to be around Ames), and Thompson does a great job evoking the dutiful and plain life of the farmers, before industrialized / corporatized farming takes over.

more
The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson made a lot of sense to me. OK, what did I mean by that? This book is the story of the Erickson family living in a small town, Grenada in Iowa from 1973 to 1998. It also followed the life of a cousin named Chip. It reflected the religion,cultare of the area and the times. The chapters alternated with the different persons of the family who left home and those who didn't. Being from Indiana, I can relate to hard working farm people like Aunt Martha and Norm. The book opens with the preparations of a funeral. Funerals and weddings and sometimes family reunions bring those who left home back. I am familiar with the local view that the outside world is a bit weird and scary. Each character in this book has a traumatic event in their life and the book and you follow the character to see what they do after that. To me, this is true life, how many of us go through life without something terrible happening? I don't think that there has to be humor in this book. The real story is how the characters coped with what their challenges that beset them.I thought this was a true and honest book. I recommend it to everyone who likes to read about families, especially in the Midwest.more
I didn't like this book much...and I don't even really remember it even though it's only been a few weeks since I read it!more
A family in small town Iowa is the focus of this book. We get to know the family members and their challenges as the years pass by. The author is able to bring her characters to life so that I was sad when the book ended.more
The Year We Left Home is one of the best books I have read this year. It is an engrossing story of a family over several decades and a sort of lament about American life and coming of age centered around a small Iowa town. Some characters are trying to get away from the town, some want to stay, some are forced to stay. I really agree with one of the blurbs on the book jacket that said after you are done reading, it will be hard to remember that these are not real characters. How true! I have found myself wondering what some of their reactions to current events might be.Overall, an excellent, well-written novel that makes me want to read much more by Jean Thompson.more
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