Available November 1, 2016
Trouble with the law sends John back to his mom’s house, a place he hasn’t lived since a year after his brother’s accident. Still reeling from his girlfriend’s death, John’s only plan is to keep his head down until he’s served out his time. Then he’s California bound. Connections, especially with a girl, are the last thing he needs. But as the issues he once left behind begin to catch up with John at home, he finds that his usual retreats—pot and alcohol—aren’t enough. As the pressure builds, John must make a choice: to face the terrible truth about his past or let it destroy him and his family again.
The Homecoming is pretty much exactly the kind of novel I love reading. While John’s coping strategies aren’t my favorite in literature, I can’t help but root for a guy like him. He has a great heart, which we saw a little bit of in Ramey’s earlier novel, The Sister Pact, which describes some of his relationship with Leah from Leah’s sister’s point-of-view. Speaking of sisters, I love John’s relationship with his little sister and found it super endearing.
I liked that the story dealt with issues of family. John’s brother is disabled, and the family struggles a lot with how to manage his care. He’s not a perfectly likeable guy, either, which I found to be different than we often see in literature. His family clearly loved him, but it wasn’t always easy.
A couple of other interesting elements: John discovers a talent for architecture and begins learning the CAD program in a class. It’s a bright moment for him. At his dad’s insistence, he joins the lacrosse team, which also turns out to be a good thing for him. So several scenes show him exploring both of those interests which are a bit unusual for YA. I liked that.
If you like tragic-yet-hopeful contemporary YA, this is definitely a book you should check out.
Recommended for Ages 16 up.
Major characters are all white middle class. John’s brother is disabled.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used with moderate frequency.
John reflects on having been with a number of girls since Leah’s death, but that those relationships were superficial and didn’t touch his heart. He and one girl begin making out and retreat to her room to have sex but are interrupted. At the time, she states that she wants to have a casual relationship with him.
John’s brother Ryan punches family members and injures them. A car accident injures a boy. Another accident injures a woman and her adult son. During a lacrosse game, another player makes unkind comments to John and other players take turns going after the guy. No detailed descriptions of violence or injuries.
John smokes pot and drinks alcohol, sometimes alone and sometimes with others.