Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Review: Calling Home

Summary: From an extraordinary new voice in fiction comes a haunting, powerful novel about mothers and daughters, choice and regret, the mistakes we make and the ones we hope we can correct before it’s too late.

Nothing much ever happens in Falling Rock, Kentucky. So when Virginia Lemmons’ husband takes off in his Trans Am to take up with a beautician, there’s not much to do but what people in rural Kentucky have always done—get on with it. Now, overwhelmed and unsure, Virginia’s got her hands full trying to keep it together, body and soul, while raising her two teenage kids—eighteen-year-old son, Will, and her spirited fourteen-year-old daughter, Shannon.

But Shannon has her own ideas for breaking free of Falling Rock, and in her reckless, wild-child daughter, Virginia sees echoes of herself and her own painful past. She’ll do whatever it takes to keep her daughter from making the same tragic mistakes, and saving what’s left of her fragile family just may be the biggest fight of Virginia’s life.

In this compelling, heartbreaking first novel, Janna McMahan brings to authentic life the dreams, passions, and troubles of one southern town, where choice isn’t always easy to come by, and living the hand you’re dealt with is a grace all its own. - kensington books

I consider myself so lucky to have had the opportunity to read CALLING HOME by Janna McMahan. Ms. McMahan found my blog and thought her book would be a good fit with my reading interests. I can't tell you how grateful I am to her -- I LOVED THIS BOOK!

CALLING HOME is first and foremost a book about a mother/daughter relationship. However, I think there is so much more to this book than that. It's a coming-of-age book of a young girl growing up in rural Kentucky who aspires to be something more. It's also a book about love and family dynamics. I found this book especially poignant because it's also about making mistakes and learning to overcome them.

I really don't have much of anything in common with the characters in the story, yet I found myself relating to them in so many ways. There was definitely an underlying message about the strength of women -- Shannon and her mother were incredibly strong figures and very much survivors. The characters and their troubles just seemed so real to me -- mistakes and all. I loved "watching" Shannon grow up; and I wanted everything to turn out okay for her.

One of the major themes of this book was sacrifice. So many of the characters in this book make huge sacrifices for those that they love. Even though there were parts of this book that were sad and depressing, I thought the ability of the characters to put others first really showed how wonderful the human spirit can be. There were a few times that I found myself judging some of the characters in this book before I knew their background. I definitely have to say that my feelings about many of the characters (especially Shannon's parents) changed by the time I was done reading the book.

This is Janna McMahan's first novel, but I'm pretty sure it won't be her last. She is already a critically acclaimed author for her short-stories and non-fiction work (winner of the South Carolina Fiction Project, the Piccolo Spoleto Fiction Open, the Harriette Arnow Award from the Appalachian Writers Association, and the Fiction Prize from the Kentucky Women Writers Conference.) I thought this book was extremely well-written and I'm looking forward to reading more of Ms. McMahan's work.

I can't wait for my family and friends to read this book so I can talk to someone about it. I highly recommend this book for reading groups and book clubs because there are so many underlying themes that will make for a wonderful discussion. I have found a list of discussion questions as well as an excellent author interview which will further enhance your reading experience.

CALLING HOME is available at all major book retail outlets right now. In fact, yesterday morning I was drooling over the book selection at Target (who doesn't just love their book department?) and was thrilled to see CALLING HOME on the shelves. If you are interested in "winning" a copy of CALLING HOME, stay tuned...I'll be offerering a giveaway in the very near future.

1 comment:

Amy said...

sounds like a great book..I'll look forward to the giveaway. :)