Book review: Homecoming by Caren Gussoff

the cover of the book

Katey Bruscke is deliberately lost, running away from her home town to try and find something else. But when her older sister is killed and Katey is the one the police call, she is compelled back to her home town, where the tragedy and love story that is her family is played out.

The story

Twenty year old Katey is finally coming home, after years of impermanent travel, with a man she's not sure loves her. The reason; Reese, her older sister, best friend, and junkie - is found dead. For Katey, this is more than a final look at the sister she lost. It is also a chance to reconnect with her younger sister Shay, her old friends, and of course, her family.

But Katey is still lost. Still trying to reconcile with the loss of her Reese years before her actual death, she finds her hometown, friends, and remaining sister both unbearably different and the same. In running from her current relationship, she has run into a different set of problems.

As Katey relives her past, and tries to make sense of Reese's life and death and her own relationships, she must come to an understanding about herself. And find the strength to tell her family about Reese.

The style

Homecoming is sparsely written and prose-ish, written from the point of view of Katey. The style could be described as unrelenting and stark, managing to evoke a sense of nostalgia, longing, and sadness while avoiding the saccharine.

The story twists and turns as Katey's thoughts progress, flashing back and forth through her childhood to current times. The journey is fairly internal, and is more a revelation of character than any actual events occurring. The character's voice is incredibly honest - we don't always like Katey, but we know we're hearing her. And the voice is very authentic.

My only criticism would be that Homecoming is so authentic, it sounds like the meanderings of a twenty year old. Sometimes, the voice, terminology, and blase attitude to drug taking etc is a bit... contrived. Authentic, but a bit alienating for someone who isn't quite twenty anymore.

Who is this book for?

As I mentioned above, this book is prime for a young adult/early twenties audience. It was a bit young for me, but on the other hand, I think I would really have liked it up until the age of about twenty four.

If you like this book, you would also like...

This is a pretty large genre - the "I'm in my late teens/early twenties and finding myself after a family tragedy or similar" situation. Two springing immediately to mind are Came Back To Show You I Could Fly by Robin Klein, or Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta. These are both for slightly younger readers, but they are along the same vein.

In short

Title: Homecoming
Author: Caren Gussoff
Publisher: Serpent's Tail
ISBN: 1852424583
Year published: 2000
Pages: 154
Genre(s): Modern fiction, Young adult