Title: The Way Home
Author: George Pelecanos
Release Date: May 12, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
From the dust jacket:
Hidden beneath the floorboards in a house he’s remodeling, Christopher Flynn discovers something very tempting-and troubling. Summoning every bit of maturity and every lesson he’s learned the hard way, Chris leaves what he found where he found it and tells his job partner to forget it, too. Knowing trouble when he sees it-and walking the other way-is a habit Chris is still learning.
Chris’s father, Thomas Flynn, runs the family business where Chris and his friends have found work. Thomas is just getting comfortable with the idea that his son is grown, working, and on the right path at last. Then one day Chris doesn’t show up for work-and his father knows deep in his bones that danger has found him. Although he wishes it weren’t so, he also knows that no parent can protect a child from all the world’s evils. Sometimes you have to let them find their own way home.
The Way Home is the most powerful novel yet from the electrifying George Pelecanos, whose work has been compared to that of Dennis Lehane and Richard Price, writers “who push the boundaries of crime writing into literary territory” (New York Times). As profound and engrossing as Pelecanos’s work as writer and producer on The Wire, The Way Home is an unforgettable novel of fathers’ hopes and sons’ ambitions, of love, drive, and forgiveness.
I have never read anything by George Pelecanos, nor have I watched the show The Wire, for which Pelecanos used to write. I’ve heard good things about him and his books, but never really put a priority on reading them. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy them – they seemed a little too gritty for my tastes. When my brand new book club picked The Way Home as our first read, I was really happy. I like book club picks that force me to read outside my normal genres.
I have to say, The Way Home really impressed me. As I was reading it, I was thoroughly impressed by Pelecanos’ writing ability. He writes incredibly smoothly; though his subject may be jarring, his prose never is. He also really knows how to build suspense without creating that ball in the pit of your stomach. I enjoy suspenseful novels, but don’t really like it when you absolutely know something bad is going to happen because of heavy-handed hints. Pelecanos is a master at making sure the reader doesn’t really know what is going to come next; it’s a fine line, and he walks it very well.
I loved the end message of The Way Home. I enjoyed reading about the development of the major characters, especially Chris and his father, Flynn. Their relationship is really at the core of the novel. The message of redemption is an extremely powerful one. Pelecanos manages to make the ending emotionally gripping without treading into cheesiness or cliché. He injects heart into the novel without making it sentimental.
I’m so glad that my book club forced me to give The Way Home and George Pelecanos a chance. While I’m not sure I’ll be rushing to pick up more of his books (I was right about them being gritty), I’d definitely like to read more of his books in the future!