Home by Marilynne Robinson

HomeHome by Marilynne Robinson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Home” is a prodigal son story. Glory Boughton has returned home to Gilead to take care of her dying father. She has secrets of her own she can’t share with anyone in her family–until her alcoholic brother, Jack, returns home after a twenty-year absence. During those twenty years, no one knew where he was or if he was alive.

This novel is the story of a prodigal son returned home; a son who has caused much pain to his family while growing up, and continues to cause pain in spite of his best efforts. It’s a story about relationships. Glory didn’t really know Jack when she was growing up because of the difference in their ages. Now he’s returned home, and she has a chance to get to know him, but he is more than reluctant to share his past, his thoughts, or his future plans. Jack wants to make amends, but it seems the harder he tries, the more of a mess things become. It’s not all of his fault, though. Gilead is a small town, populated by people with long memories.

Jack and Glory do establish as relationship, but are never quite comfortable or completely trusting with each other. Both mess up, which has ramifications that are never quite overcome. Each tries and succeeds, but fails, the other. What really binds them together is love for their father, who has spent most of his life grappling with his feelings for his wayward son.

Jack is the prodigal son. Glory is the child at home. Reverend Boughton is the father of both, but in this prodigal son tale, there is no killing of the fatted calf, no party, and a father who both rejoices that his son is home, but also struggles with his feelings for this wayward son who has made life for the Reverend and his late wife more difficult than it should have been.

“Home” is the story of the prodigal son with all of the complex and human aspects left in.

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