Rod Raglin

This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection,  the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin.

An extraordinary story about ordinary people

The Year We Left Home: A Novel - Jean Thompson

is a novel about ordinary people, living ordinary lives, filled with ordinary triumphs and tragedies, successes and failures, love and longing – even the setting is ordinary. What makes it exceptional is Jean Thompson’s extraordinary writing and storytelling.

 

This book is totally engaging and a seamless read.

 

The characters are three dimensional and exceptional only in the way we all are unique and, though flawed, capable of generous and noble deeds.

 

The novel specifically resonated with me because I am of this generation and the historical events and how the play out in the story and the impact they have on the characters is in part my story, my history.

 

Thompson structures the narrative with every chapter written in a different point of view, but the overriding context – the family, the relationships, and the times stay connected.

 

It’s not surprising the author is an accomplished short story writer as well as a novelist. Each chapter could be a satisfying story in itself.

 

The only criticism is the leaps in time. Each chapter takes a significant jump ahead in time, some up to four years. The chapter heading indicates the month and year but this took me out of the reading experience to refer back to the previous chapter to see how much time had elapsed. That being said, the technique is probably better than having to read two pages at the beginning of each chapter to get up to speed.

 

This novel particularly shines in the area relationships between the characters. Thompson really gets family – mine, yours, everyones’.

 

Though even as I was immersed in the characters and events I was worried she wouldn’t be able to pull it all together and there’d be annoying and disconcerting loose ends.

But the ending is not only satisfying, like all good endings, it seems inevitable.

 

This novel fulfills the sentiment of Anthony Brandt when he said, “Other things may change us, but we begin and end with family.”