Alma Terrebonne has no desire to ever return home. She loves her brother, Pete, and her sister, Vicky, but Vicky and her had a falling out years ago. Now, Alma just sees Vicky’s daughter, Brittany, but has little contact with her sister. All that changes in a heartbeat when Alma receives a fateful phone call: Vicky has been found dead, and Alma must return home to pick up the pieces. Alma reluctantly heads back to Montana, unsure of what she’ll find or how she’ll feel once she faces what she left behind.
A gorgeously atmospheric novel that speaks to the ways in which your past will always be a part of who you are, The Home Place ties a mystery with the main character’s personal journey, in which she must accept the more difficult truths about herself.
The Home Place is an atmospheric novel full of the bittersweet taste of longing and regret. Alma thinks she doesn’t belong in Montana anymore; she was all too eager to leave it behind. But now that she’s forced to go back, she finds that maybe, while she was so busy getting as far away as she could, she left part of herself behind. It’s interesting to watch Alma reacclimate to the nuances of being home, to find her falling into old rhythms and familiar relationships.
Alma is prickly when The Home Place begins, full of uncertainty. Much of this novel is about finding herself and understanding where she belongs. In that respect, the novel is predictable; readers can easily see where Alma will end up. But that’s not necessarily a criticism; this book is about the journey, about Alma’s slow understanding of how all the decisions she’s made over the course of her life have brought her to this point. It’s beautifully written and quite poignant. Readers will enjoy getting to know Alma.
The mystery of Vicky’s death is actually a secondary storyline in The Home Place. It’s certainly the reason Alma came home and the catalyst for events that come after, and the shadow of her death lingers over the entire book, even as they aren’t sure if foul play was involved or not. But this is Alma’s story, not Vicky’s, a novel of rebuilding rather than death. As a result, sometimes her death appears to be an afterthought. It’s not that the characters don’t want to understand, it’s just that there’s a lot of pain involved in looking back, and they’re all looking to construct something new rather than tear down events from the past. It’s well done, to be sure, and keeps the novel from being depressing or going into crime novel territory (not a bad thing, as I love crime novels, but this isn’t one).
If you enjoy beautiful, atmospheric reads, then The Home Place should absolutely be on your list. It’s a novel about guilt and sacrifice, and about how no matter how far you run from home, your past will always catch up with you. It’s got great pacing and really is a well-told story that readers will find it easy to lose themselves in.