The Year We Left Home by Jean Thompson
A Novel

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 12 Critic Reviews

unrated

Synopsis

From National Book Award finalist Jean Thompson comes a mesmerizing, decades-spanning saga of one ordinary American family—proud, flawed, hopeful— whose story simultaneously captures the turbulent history of the country at large.

Over the course of a thirty-year career, Jean Thompson has been celebrated by critics as “a writer of extraordinary intelligence and sensitivity” (O, The Oprah Magazine), “an American Alice Munro” (The Wall Street Journal), and “one of our most lucid and insightful writers” (San Francisco Chronicle). Her peers have been no less vocal, from Jennifer Egan (“bracing . . . boldly unconventional”) to David Sedaris (“if there are ‘Jean Thompson characters,’ they’re us, and never have we been as articulate and worthy of compassion”).

Now, in The Year We Left Home, Thompson brings together all of her talents to deliver the career-defining novel her admirers have been waiting for: a sweeping and emotionally powerful story of a single American family during the tumultuous final decades of the twentieth century. It begins in 1973 when the Erickson family of Grenada, Iowa, gathers for the wedding of their eldest daughter, Anita. Even as they celebrate, the fault lines in the family emerge. The bride wants nothing more than to raise a family in her hometown, while her brother Ryan watches restlessly from the sidelines, planning his escape. He is joined by their cousin Chip, an unpredictable, war-damaged loner who will show Ryan both the appeal and the perils of freedom. Torrie, the Ericksons’ youngest daughter, is another rebel intent on escape, but the choices she makes will bring about a tragedy that leaves the entire family changed forever.

Stretching from the early 1970s in the Iowa farmlands to suburban Chicago to the coast of contemporary Italy—and moving through the Vietnam War’s aftermath, the farm crisis, the numerous economic boomsand busts—The Year We Left Home follows the Erickson siblings as they confront prosperity and heartbreak, setbacks and triumphs, and seek their place in a country whose only constant seems to be breathtaking change. Ambitious, richly told, and fiercely American, this is a vivid and moving meditation on our continual pursuit of happiness and an incisive exploration of the national character.
 

About Jean Thompson

See more books from this Author
JEAN THOMPSON is the author of three previous novels, The Year We Left Home, City Boy (a National Book Award finalist), and Wide Blue Yonder, and three story collections. She lives in Urbana, Illinois.
 
Published May 3, 2011 by Simon & Schuster. 338 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Year We Left Home

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

In Thompson's unforgettable, offbeat novel, an extended Iowa family struggles for emotional and economic stability over three decades, beginning with a modest Lutheran wedding in 1983 and ending with a bittersweet homecoming.

Feb 01 2011 | Read Full Review of The Year We Left Home: A Novel

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

About a third of the way into “The Year We Left Home,” Jean Thompson’s 10th book of fiction, the ­Erickson family of Grenada, Iowa, attends — along with much of the town — the funeral of a beloved great aunt.

May 06 2011 | Read Full Review of The Year We Left Home: A Novel

BC Books

See more reviews from this publication

The bride Anita, however, aspires to no more than staying at home and raising a family, perhaps following the footsteps of her mother Audrey, who tries to fix anything wrong with her home-cooked food.

Apr 28 2011 | Read Full Review of The Year We Left Home: A Novel

BC Books

See more reviews from this publication

The story starts with Chip and his cousin Ryan getting high during Ryan's sister's wedding reception and ends with them taking over the farmhouse of the story's oldest characters, by that time deceased.

Apr 28 2011 | Read Full Review of The Year We Left Home: A Novel

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

National Book Award finalist Jean Thompson doesn’t so much write characters as channel the inner sanctums of your friends and neighbors.

May 04 2011 | Read Full Review of The Year We Left Home: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

Family farms across Iowa are foreclosed on and swallowed up by starch-collared men like Anita's banker husband, while Ryan is a world away in Chicago, learning to shed his small-town skin and dating dangerously un-Lutheran girls with jangling ankle bracelets, and Chip pinballs from city to city, ...

May 04 2011 | Read Full Review of The Year We Left Home: A Novel

Washington Independent Review of Books

A series of loosely linked vignettes tracking the lives of a small town Iowa family, Jean Thompson’s novel The Year We Left Home also tells the story of an America coping with identity crisis and loss over the last quarter of the 20th century.

Jun 20 2011 | Read Full Review of The Year We Left Home: A Novel

Seattle PI

In The Year We Left Home, Jean Thompson takes us on a three decade journey through the lives of the Ericksons, a farming family in Grenada, Iowa.

May 13 2011 | Read Full Review of The Year We Left Home: A Novel

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

As some family members – the parents, Anita and her new husband Jeff – get ready to take their place in pre-defined roles, others are restlessly searching for a way out of Iowa – notably, her brother Ryan.

May 05 2011 | Read Full Review of The Year We Left Home: A Novel

Bookmarks Magazine

Spanning from the early 1970s in the Iowa farmlands to contemporary Chicago and far beyond, The Year We Left Home is a vivid, moving meditation on our continual pursuit of happiness and an incisive exploration of our national character.

May 03 2011 | Read Full Review of The Year We Left Home: A Novel

The Miami Herald

Unsentimental, enlightening and quietly brilliant, the novel examines three decades in the lives of the Ericksons of Grenada, Iowa, no dirt under their fingernails but still tied to the tough, earlier generations that farmed the land (which makes them vulnerable to the looming economic disaster d...

| Read Full Review of The Year We Left Home: A Novel

Culture Mob

Limited conversations, limited ambitions and, above all, limited expectations of life.

Apr 27 2011 | Read Full Review of The Year We Left Home: A Novel

Reader Rating for The Year We Left Home
71%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 202 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×