Book Title and Author: This Is Home by Lisa Duffy
Publication Date and Publisher: June 11, 2019 by Atria Books
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 304 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: March 27, 2019 (copy from the publisher)
Sixteen-year-old Libby Winters lives in Paradise, a seaside town north of Boston that rarely lives up to its name. After the death of her mother, she lives with her father, Bent, in the middle apartment of their triple decker home—Bent’s two sisters, Lucy and Desiree, live on the top floor. A former soldier turned policeman, Bent often works nights, leaving Libby under her aunts’ care. Shuffling back and forth between apartments—and the wildly different natures of her family—has Libby wishing for nothing more than a home of her very own.
Quinn Ellis is at a crossroads. When her husband John, who has served two tours in Iraq, goes missing back at home, suffering from PTSD he refuses to address, Quinn finds herself living in the first-floor apartment of the Winters house. Bent had served as her husband’s former platoon leader, a man John refers to as his brother, and despite Bent’s efforts to make her feel welcome, Quinn has yet to unpack a single box.
For Libby, the new tenant downstairs is an unwelcome guest, another body filling up her already crowded house. But soon enough, an unlikely friendship begins to blossom, when Libby and Quinn stretch and redefine their definition of family and home.
With gorgeous prose and a cast of characters that feel wholly real and lovably flawed, This Is Home is a nuanced and moving novel of finding where we belong.
I knew after reading Lisa Duffy’s book The Salt House in 2017 that she was a special writer—the kind who writes a book that just grabs at your heart and leaves such an impression because it’s so deeply moving and heartfelt. I knew then that I’d read anything Duffy wrote, a feeling that was deepened after reading her exquisite new novel, This is Home.
Lucy, Desiree, and Bent are three adult siblings who share a three-level apartment home along with Bent’s 16 year old daughter Libby. Bent, ex-military and now a police officer, works really late nights and doesn’t want Libby to be left alone. Under her aunts watchful and wildly different styles of nurturing and her dad’s tender yet tough parenting, Libby is a teenager a bit adrift, trying to find her own way, and wishing for a home of their own.
Then there is Quinn, the new neighbor who is renting out the bottom floor of the house. In her own way, she’s lost and looking for a place to call home since her husband John, who served with Bent in Iraq, has deserted her after returning from his last tour a much-changed man. She has no idea who the man she married is anymore.
Duffy’s characterization is just perfect and so memorable—I’m not going to forget these characters for quite some time. I found myself connecting with each of them in some way but especially with Quinn since I understood some of her struggles as an ex-military wife since my own husband served 3 tours in Iraq. It’s a hard thing being a military spouse and serviceman, and I think Duffy captured this with great effect and raw honesty.
Duffy’s writing is profound and captivating as she brings the small town of Paradise and its inhabitants to life. Duffy so wonderfully captures the struggles of her characters but also reminds us that home is where we least expect it because of the connections that are forged with people in the unlikeliest circumstances. Even more, the prose is gorgeous, and this is truly beautiful literary fiction. The writing is effortless, fluid, and so elegant. Duffy is a true storyteller, and it was an absolute pleasure to read this novel.
The novel made me laugh and cry because it filled me with happiness while also filled me with moments of absolute heartbreak, but I love books that are able to wreak havoc on my emotions because that means the author knows and understands people.
This is Home is one of those novels that touch your heart and soul, and I found myself lost in the story about family, connections, friendships, love, and relationships. This is one novel that can’t be missed this year and will be on my list of favorites for 2019—I’ll be savoring this book for a really long time and recommending it to everyone I know for much longer.
**Thank you, Isabel DaSilva at Atria Books for the complimentary review copy in exchange for my fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.**