- By Jean Thompson

The Year We Left Home

  • Title: The Year We Left Home
  • Author: Jean Thompson
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 471
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • The Year We Left Home In this mesmerizing saga of one ordinary American family proud flawed hopeful navigating the tumultuous final decades of the American century Jean Thompson delivers a sweeping powerful novel that

    In this mesmerizing saga of one ordinary American family proud, flawed, hopeful navigating the tumultuous final decades of the American century, Jean Thompson delivers a sweeping, powerful novel that simultaneously captures the turbulent history of the country at large Spanning from the early 1970s in the Iowa farmlands to contemporary Chicago and far beyond, The YearIn this mesmerizing saga of one ordinary American family proud, flawed, hopeful navigating the tumultuous final decades of the American century, Jean Thompson delivers a sweeping, powerful novel that simultaneously captures the turbulent history of the country at large 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.

    1 thought on “The Year We Left Home

    1. Pretentious piece of crap. Supposed to be the summer darling of the intellectual elitists. The whole book is nothing but a series of vignettes about being miserable. The whole family takes a turn on the misery train where I get to be in the caboose. The name of this book should have been "My Life Sucks More Than Yours." Each chapter follows a family member and there is no resolution to their story. Every marriage is miserable, every child a bratty little spawn of horror, every parent a nag, ther [...]

    2. Jean Thompson has been aptly labeled “an American Alice Munro”, and as a reader who has been mesmerized time and again by her captivating short-story collections, I wholeheartedly concur.Now, in The Year We Left Home, Ms. Thompson leverages all her strengths and skills as a short-story writer and creates a sweeping and emotionally satisfying novel composed of interlocking, decade-spanning stories of a family in flux. As her grand theme, she takes on the universal quest for “home”, explor [...]

    3. The Year we Left Home follows the Erickson family over the course of 3 decades. We start with Anita's marriage in 1973, and alternate voices with every chapter. Ryan, Blake and Torrie all fill the pages of this novel. For me, it was a nice snapshot into a family and their different dynamics, and relationships over time. I was waiting for something major to happen, and nothing really happened. I don't know if any of the characters really grew enough for me to remember this book next year.A good r [...]

    4. This was the first giveaway that I won and it did not disappoint.Jean Thompson created a wonderfully quiet and subtle work with The Year We Left Home. She draws you seamlessly into the characters and the place. The story has a rather unassuming beginning: Iowa in winter, a wedding, two cousins getting high in a truck."He wished he was out there right now, in some desert, instead of smack in the middle of his family, who, because they knew his origins and his history, thought they knew everythin [...]

    5. This book was wonderful. Jean Thompson is a masterful writer and you begin to feel that you know her characters as close friends, even people you love and care about."The Year We Left Home" follows four siblings and a cousin through their lives beginning in 1973 and ending in 2003. You follow their triumphs and their disappointments through the years and find that Ryan, Anita, Blake, and Torrie are not so different from your own family or other peoples' families. You know, that might be boring o [...]

    6. Not the great piece of literature I was expecting, but also not "a pretentious piece of crap" as one reviewer put it. That being said, I did enjoy the book. I especially liked Chip and Ryan. I didn't like Anita nearly as much. I have always lived in Washington State and this book gave me insight into that foreign species, the Midwesterner. Unlike some, I didn't feel it was depressing and bleak. I felt it was actually upbeat. Yes, bad things happened - the farm closures, PTSD, alcoholism, etc - b [...]

    7. I don't read a lot of contemporary literature just because stories dealing with "real life" ups and downs often bum me out and leave me less than inspired or excited. I read to escape from life for the most part and want to be shocked, thrilled, titillated, consumed -- and at the best of times -- overcome with wonder and emotion. Some contemporary novels are very rich in language and character development, and while not a lot happens, they still succeed at moving the reader. Those are the novels [...]

    8. The first chapter, when Anita is married at the VFW had me hooked since my first wedding was at a hall very much like this place and actually sounded alot like this one. Good book about families, how they come apart but stick together all the same, change and grow and some never changing at all. Good hisotry as they live throught the farm crisis, the after effects of the Viet Nam war etc. Liked the story being told in chapters of alternate viewpoints from different family memebers.

    9. Wow, Jean Thompson has a 30-year career. Where the hell have I been? I'm kind of leaning on five stars here, this was just so perfectly my kind of book. Snotcho, we've had a discussion of epistolary novels, and this one rates right up there with Olive Kitteridge, although that one really tries to paint the portrait of one woman, and this one paints the tumultuous landscape of a slice of time. I'm going to stand by my assertion that this work feels like O'Brien, not just in the obvious parallels [...]

    10. This story that follows the journey of one family—from the 1970s to the 2000s—is filled with haunting themes of alienation, disillusionment, and a smidgen of hope thrown in occasionally. It spotlights not only one family from a small town in Iowa, but an era.The Erickson offspring grew from hearty Midwestern stock, with traditional values more deeply entrenched, perhaps, because of the hint of the Norwegian origins that still cling to them. Some of the family members are still farming, while [...]

    11. Ah, the Midwest. One has notions of the Midwest that the characters in this novel try to disabuse one of all the way through, but in fact, it's pretty much the way I imagined it: overgrown family farms gone to ruin; empty, neglected storefronts on main streets; young kids dying to get out. This novel follows an extended family through the 1960s to the new millenium, and isn't lavish with descriptions of beauty or of success or even of happiness. But the author does treat us to moments of transce [...]

    12. Sure have been seeing this sort of narrative structure in novels a lot lately, in which the author tells an epic-ish tale in discreet set pieces, skipping months and years between each (what amounts to) short story, and shifting our perspective among multiple characters. Jean Thompson's mostly pretty great The Year We Left Home spans thirty years of an Iowa family--and, equally important to the story, of an Iowa town, and, by extension, the country as a whole--beginning in 1973 and ending in the [...]

    13. 4+ stars. I adored this little book. It is a cross between a collection of interlinked short stories and a novel. It follows four Iowa-bred siblings (and their cousin) through the thirty years between two ill conceived wars. Because of the shifting narrative structure and the fact there’s not an actual plot, it’s a little hard to get your hooks into at first. Stay with it though! These characters are absolutely worth getting to know. I liked every one of them, even the ones I’d never volun [...]

    14. This is the story of the Peerson family: Ryan, Anita, Blake, Torrie and their cousin, Chip Tesman (Ray, Jr). What I liked:* Jean Thompson does an excellent job of portraying the family's life in a believable way. You almost feel they could be the family next door.* The book is well-written, no annoying writing quirks, too much dialect, etc.* The story is woven deftly around the events of three decades* There is just the right amount of action, events to keep the story believableWhat I didn't lik [...]

    15. A few weeks ago, The Year We Left Home, by Jean Thompson, appeared on Entertainment Weekly's back-page Bullseye feature. It suggested that if you "love" Jonathan Franzen, check out this book. It's kind of rare that a not-big-name novel shows up in Bullseye. And I do love Jonathan Franzen.So, I thought, let's do this! I'd never heard of Thompson, but luckily, I had a copy of the novel on hand — I'd won it several months ago in a Friday Reads giveaway. So I dug it up from where it'd been buried [...]

    16. In this moving novel, Jean Thompson follows a small-town Iowan family through thirty years of changes beginning in 1973. Those are the years when the insulated, land-bound Midwest was invaded by every social and economic upheaval and became once and for all, for better or for worse, integrated into American life.The Erickson family came from a long line of hardworking stoic Norwegian farmers, but the most recent generation is having nothing to do with all that. The blows to patriotism brought ab [...]

    17. "He wished he was out there right now, in some desert, instead of smack in the middle of his family, who, because they knew his origins and his history, thought they knew everything about him."Jean Thompson's latest novel is a testament to the part of us that makes us uniquely American: that we have the potential to be someone really special. Not the humdrum boring life were were brought up in, but a new life and a new person in a completely different (and exciting) place.The story begins in 197 [...]

    18. This book is one of a new genreI'm not sure what it's calledbut basically it's a book that calls itself a novel but is really a bunch of interconnected short stories. This is an extremely popular thing to do in the publishing industry as of late, mainly, I believe, because short story collection sell like crap when they are labelled accurately. What has bothered me in other instances of this "novel-but-really-we're-a-collection-of-short-stories" genre, ala A Visit from the Goon Squad and Olive K [...]

    19. So it took me quite a while to get through this book. At first it was the book, (I found it pretty hard to sink into in the first part even though I loved the first chapter), but then it was all my own fault. A stupidly over committed week full of job interviews and helping my mom move house made it impossible to get more than 20 pages in in a sitting. I typically like to read a book in 3 or 4 days I find it helps me to stay with the characters. Anyway, this book is good, really good in parts. I [...]

    20. I have seen this book on many reading lists and the reviews have been favorable. There is no doubt that the writing is very good and the format is interesting. It's written as connected short stories that span several different family members over a number of years. Being set in rural Iowa, it brought to mind my own family and a few of the characters reminded me of those relatives.I'm not sure if I will find anyone to agree with me, but I always get annoyed when a woman tries to write from a mal [...]

    21. I like how Thompson looks at class issues, marriage, the push and pull of family. Iowa, Midwest ethos. Great characters. She wrote: "She was a bad, foul, unnatural mother.""You turning into one of those crazy women? Nothing maks you happy?" "She asked him where he was from and he said Iowa. Darkest Iowa.""Outside, the same frozen street, same dirty-pink mercury-vapor streetlight, the same stick tree throwing its bare shadow.It was easy for him to imagine, at such times, that he was lost in a nig [...]

    22. I got this as an ARC from a first-reads giveaway.The Year We Left Home has basically no plot, but chronicled the lives of an extended family. I can't get enough of stories like this, ones centered on different people and how they deal with life, how everyone reacts and chooses things differently. I felt the same draw to The Year We Left Home that I did with The Lovely Bones, though the two don't have anything in common besides the fact that they take place over decades and follow several differe [...]

    23. This book was a quiet but powerful novel with an interesting structure. The book follows the lives of three generations of an Iowan family. Each chapter of the book is set a couple of years after the previous chapter, and in each chapter Thompson delves deeply into an episode in one of the character's lives. I read that the author is a master of the short story, sometimes compared to Alice Munro, and each chapter has the arc of a standalone short story. Interrelated short stories seems to be a p [...]

    24. Oh my. Like Olive Kitteridge I wanted to like this so much more than I actually did but I just can't. This novel is a series of vignettes centered around the Erickson family of podunk Iowa spread over 3o years or so. Time passes, the kids leave home, or don't, things happen, some people change and others not much, and, uhm, time passes. The writing is lovely and subtle and there were some little gems sprinkled throughout but like "Olive" it just felt so darn sad to me. As I sit here I keep tryin [...]

    25. Jean Thompson tells an updated family saga that spans 30 years between 1973 and 2003, the time periods punctuated by references to national phenomena like "the tech bubble," and "the farm crisis" and culinary trends from carpaccio to pomegranate juice. The novel revolves around the Erickson family of Grenada, Iowa: Anita, the former prom queen who marries an Ames banker and becomes an embittered stay-at-home mom; Torrie, whose rebellious ambitions to attend college in New York and leave the Midw [...]

    26. Very well written. The story followed a family from the seventies to 2003. It showed just snapshots in different years of their lives. Some questions were answered in future snapshots, but some were not. For instance, Anita takes $5000 out of personal funds to help a family member who is losing their farm. You never find out any follow up to that event. What did her husband say? Did they have the money? She took it from two banks and I wondered if she took more out than they had? Then Jeff is an [...]

    27. I REALLY want to deduct for glaring errors and make this 3.5 or maybe even 3: it was The Bob Newhart Show, not Newhart, that aired in the 1970s, and "apparent" is spelled, well, like that. Not like this: apparant. How does a book get published with those errors? There were a handful of other 70s/80s details that were just a hair off, too. However, I actually really enjoyed the experience of reading the book. And I liked the sardonic musings and misery and observations quite a lot. Luckily, I did [...]

    28. I don't even remember how this book ended up in my handsI think I must have read a review on NPR about this being a hot summer read or something like that. It was a good read, but one I'm glad came from the library and not one that I bought.As most people have mentioned, there is no plot per se, it is just the story of this family over the course of 30 years, skipping between narrators and jumping forward a couple of years each chapter. Because of this, many of the characters seem to lack depth, [...]

    29. What a wonderful book. Especially for those of us who grew up in the 60's and 70's. This family saga follows the siblings in an Iowa farm family through three generations. The chapters skip through the years but after the first couple, it was very easy to follow and keep the characters straight (something I often have trouble with in books that skip around). I really loved the way this book is written. The development of the characters as they grow up and grow old is so smooth and true. As someo [...]

    30. Wonderful book about a midwestern family that tracks the lives of the individual members from the 70's through the early 21st century (some more closely than others). The characters are fully developed and believable, and like most of us, nuanced, with both good and bad qualities, but in the end, fully sympathetic. Thompson skillfully weaves into the narrative many of the issues of this time period, such as the impact of the recession of the early 1980's on small farmers, made more devastating b [...]

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *