by Jean Thompson
Meet the Erickson family of Grenada, Iowa:
•Anita, the eldest daughter: the pretty girl whose only ambition is to get married and raise her children in her hometown,
•Ryan, her restless brother: he wants nothing more than to leave his family and Iowa,
•Torrie, the youngest: the daughter who doesn't fit in, and
•Cousin Chip: damaged by the war, he is a man without direction.
Witness the Ericksons and their journeys from 1973, the year Anita marries, to 2003, the year Ryan does right by Cousin Chip. Watch them struggle, watch them grow, take them into your heart, and wish that this book were about 200 pages longer.
Told in the form of stories, rather than one continuous narrative, The Year We Left Home is an amazing journey into America's heartland and the folks who make it so.
I loved Thompson's portrayal of Iowa, Iowans, and more specifically, Iowans of Norwegian heritage. I found myself reading passages aloud to my husband and marveling at the author's ability to capture the essence of people. As my husband said, "She really gets it. She gets Iowa."