Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Book Review: "This is Home" by Lisa Duffy

This was a terrific book!

Sixteen-year-old Libby Winters is surrounded by family. She has lived with her father, Bent, in the middle-level apartment of a triple-decker house, since her mother died. Because Bent is a policeman and often works nights, his two sisters, Lucy and Desiree, are tasked with watching over her, which generally means smothering her or encouraging her rebellion, depending upon which aunt is in charge.

For her part, Libby is tired of everyone giving her advice or worrying about her, and she longs for the opportunity to be her own person.

When Quinn moves in to the apartment downstairs, Libby immediately chafes at the idea of another person crowding her. But when she realizes that Quinn has issues of her own to deal with, the two begin to depend on one another—although their lives are vastly different, both are weighed down by the pressures of life and disappointed by those around them.

Quinn's husband John, who deployed to Iraq shortly after they got married, returns home after two tours, the man her husband has become isn't someone she recognizes. He suffers from PTSD, which he refuses to acknowledge, choosing instead to self-medicate with copious amounts of alcohol.

When John disappears after revealing his plans to return to Iraq, John sends Bent, his former platoon leader, to bring her to his home. At first, Quinn doesn't want someone else to do her husband's bidding, but she begins to rely on Bent more and more as events in her life become more uncertain.

"It occurred to her that over the years, she'd accumulated things to show her existence: a birth certificate, a marriage license, a college degree...but she'd never really thought about herself outside of these narrow margins—who was she after all? Especially now, with the hours stretching in front of her and nowhere to be?"

As Libby deals with problems which challenge a long-time friendship, and tries to figure out the revival of an old attraction, Quinn must figure out what she wants from John, for her future, and from others that seem to occupy her mind and her heart.

Lisa Duffy's This is Home is a beautiful, emotional story about family, friendship, parenthood, and the struggles and challenges love can cause. Duffy does a great job capturing how PTSD affects not only the individual suffering from it, but those around them, and the ripple effects it can cause.

There is a lot going on here, and not every storyline gets resolved neatly, if at all. But Duffy has created such memorable, complex characters, and no one is without flaws or struggles. It will be a while before I can get them out of my mind.

This is Home is a book that has gotten a lot of hype, and it's great to see just how worthy it is of this praise. Read it!

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