Thursday, December 31, 2015
Book Review: "Call Me Home" by Megan Kruse
Amy is growing up in the small Texas town of Fannin, and she dreams of something better in her life. She thinks she has found it in Gary, who is mercurial but passionate, and whoo dreams of getting away from Texas and the disregard of his family. The two move to rural Washington, and it isn't long before Amy realizes that Gary's passion quickly turns violent.
The couple raise two children, Jackson and Lydia, and Amy bargains with herself that if she lets Gary continue his periodic abuse of her without reprisal, he won't turn his eye onto the children. But Jackson and Lydia know all too well what is going on, and Jackson tries to protect his younger sister from the realities of their parents' marriage. As Jackson's homosexuality becomes more apparent, both Amy and Lydia realize that they must do what they can to protect him as well.
After several thwarted attempts to escape, Amy finally succeeds in leaving Gary, taking Lydia with her, and hoping Jackson will find the freedom to live the life he wants. As Amy returns to her hometown to try and retrace the steps that took her into the life she has fled, Lydia tries to understand what would keep her mother tethered to her father for so long, and whether she has any of her father inside her.
Meanwhile, Jackson, after a period of hustling, decides to go to Idaho, where he gets a job on a construction crew. He is conscious of being different from the other men and tries to keep his sexuality a secret, but it's not long before he embarks on a potentially dangerous relationship, which tests his heart in ways he has never experienced.
Call Me Home is about what we do for love, and how sometimes we put our own self-interests last, much to our detriment. It's about the pull of family and those we choose as our family, and the importance of belonging and feeling a sense of security. And, of course, it's also a book about the destructive effects of abuse on all of those who witness and live through it.
Megan Kruse is a tremendously gifted writer. Her storytelling is lyrical, poetic, and mesmerizing, as she weaves the story through different points in time, narrated by Amy, Jackson, and Lydia. Jackson's story is probably the most fleshed out and he is the most fascinating character, and at times I found myself nearly reading with my hands over my eyes, afraid something might happened to him. This is a moving book that packs a powerful punch, and I hope Kruse's talent finds itself a wide audience.