3+/5. So I read Homecoming! FINALLY. It only took, like, seven tries??
I had thought that it set off my abandonment and rejection squicks, and I think it does, some, although the rejection squick is actually pretty mild here, as it's Dicey that rejects Eunice more than the other way around. No, it's something else, as I realized around chapter 2 (this is the first time I've read it carefully paying attention to my own emotional reactions). It's this paralyzing fear I have of not being good enough for my family, the fear of failing them, that through my not being good enough horrible things will happen and it will be all my fault — and — I mean, this is definitely a child fear. I don't feel like that as an adult much — I mean, don't get me wrong, I expect I have my fair share of mommy guilt, but by and large I am really pretty OK with the imperfect balance I'm making of things. (When I am in emotional or physical crisis or panic mode, which thankfully has been a very rare and as-these-things-go-mild occurrence, these issues do come out more.) But man
does this book bring everything out. Momma leaves their family, I am convinced, for exactly that reason. Dicey is less prone than just about anyone else in the world to that sort of fear, but it's a natural consequence of the situation she's in. I mean, she's facing these impossible odds and if she does fail, the brunt of the failure comes down on her siblings. AGH. (It was hard for me even to type that.) Interestingly, "disaster" books that are similar in that the protagonist strikes out against terrible odds, but the potential consequences fall on the protagonist alone (I'm looking at you, Hatchet
) don't bother me at all, it's specifically the letting down family part that gets to me.
(I had to read the end first, to make sure they made it okay — obviously they did, but I had to remind myself viscerally. After about a chapter, I also then had to read the middle with Eunice, to steel myself for it — and like I said, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought I remembered. Then I was mostly all right — I think also that reading Solitary
right before this steeled me a little, because I'm able to maintain some distance from what Melody does, and I was able to kind of carry that over into this book.)
Anyway, so I read it and it was (of course) amazing and there are things that are really cool re-echoed throughout the series. I will say that it does have a bit of first-book-in-a-series feel to me; reading it after all the other books, instead of before, I feel that she had only 80% worked out what was going to be in the other books (occasionally there was something I blinked at, like Millie saying they don't bother Abigail — I suspect Voigt would have written that slightly differently if she'd written it after Dicey's Song) instead of, like, 99%, but even that — well, you see that by working from the other books I'm working from an impossibly high standard.
This one's theme is really easy. Home. It's even in the title. What is it, who is it, how do you get there, how do you find it, how do you make it. Home not only for the Tillerman children, but for Gram. For Gram, there are two different homes, of course: the home she made for herself, all by herself, after her husband died.(*) And there's the home that she didn't want, or at least told herself she didn't want, but got anyway, the home with four children in it, the home that is also (and finally, at long last) a family.
In this book, there's a red sweater, which mildred_of_midgard
had previously pointed out to me (in Runner
) as Bullet's. (I don't think it's the identical sweater in Runner
, since Liza was long gone by that time, but we know Bullet's favorite color is red, and he probably had several red sweaters.) It's a man's sweater with holes in it, it's what Momma was wearing when she left them (as described by Dicey later). I… don't know how it makes me feel if I think that Liza was thinking about Bullet when she left her family.
Mildred also pointed out to me that the second half of the book mirrors the first, and it's the sort of thing I probably wouldn't have noticed if it hadn't been pointed out to me, but it really does. It's interesting to me not only how Eunice and Gram are mirrored, but also how Will and Claire are mirrored by Windy and Stewart; both sets of people rescue them and are helpful in getting them to their destination, but the latter… don't care about them, really, and one might expect that once you helped a set of four kids you might come back later and see if they were actually doing OK. As Will and Claire do.
Okay, I'm sure there's lots of other stuff I was going to talk about, but I can't find my copy right now, so it will have to wait.
(*) also, by the way, the chronology is finally falling into place for me! In Runner, James has probably just been born or is about to be born (Frank says that in the last letter he got, Liza said she thought she was pregnant again, and I totally could see at least half a year going by since then). In Homecoming, he's 10 — so Homecoming takes place ten, at most eleven years after Runner
. (Also, I always thought of Gram as being really old — I think because of the name Gram — but she must not be any older than 60 in Dicey's Song, and very likely in her 50's.) Grandfather Tillerman died 4 years before Homecoming, so — oh geez — that means six years, at least, of the two of them alone. Without any children. Without even a phone
. And maybe on the whole it's a relief to Abigail, because no children means no hostages, but… still. STILL.
…gosh, can you imagine Homecoming
if the grandfather were still alive. Actually, let's not.