now finished: The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson
People who say you can't go home again may not have really tried. At any rate, you can definitely leave home again if you decide you don't want to be back after all.
I enjoyed this novel of Iowa people, life, The Big City, escape, grad school, drinking, cousins, driving, fretting, tragedy, cynicism, hippies, music, war, financial woes, family, "America," and so on. As I mentioned on my Goodreads review, I really have to like a book that includes the the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Chicago's Clark Street, the Grand Canyon, AND Indigo Girls, don't I? Not to mention the random f***ed-uppery of the characters. Story of my life, much?
But it was not perfect, lest ye plunge in thinking it will be like The Corrections only different but still as good. No. It was lighter and had mistakes. Yes, mistakes! Actual mistakes! Come on, publishing industry: don't give up on editors. All writers need editors. Real writers know this. Books especially need editors. Clearly, I should have a job editing at a major publishing house based on what was allowed to make it into print in this and The Help, to cite two recent examples. In The Year We Left Home, we read that Newhart aired in the 1970s (no, that would be The Bob Newhart Show, not the 1980s Newhart) and "apparent" is spelled wrong MULTIPLE times. How does that happen? These are only a couple examples.
If I got over that (if!), why else would this not be a perfect book? I'm not sure. It features grad school and aimless twenty- and thirty-somethings in all their glory. Grad school people and aimless twenty- and thirty-somethings are my favorite! It also involves people living in different places, which is also my favorite. Not to mention the Iowa/Nebraskaness of it all, which everyone knows I think is the most underrated region of the U.S. (Not best, underrated. Don't you misquote me.)
There's just something imperfect about it. But it's likable, likable, likable and it sucks you in so you'll stay up reading after you could easily have gone to sleep even if you aren't trying to finish it for your book group, as I was. The characters are all messed up in many ways (oooh, I forgot! There's AA! AA is always fun.) My book group had some dissatisfaction because of the messed up characters, but I greatly enjoyed the heck out of the oh-so-flawed people who populated this book.
I would probably read another of hers. But get a new editor!