Crossing the Bridge by Michael Baron was one of the first books that I read in 2010, and it wasn't one of my favourites because I had some issues with some of the characters. However, I did enjoy Baron's writing style, so I thought that I would give his latest, The Journey Home a try. I'm glad that I was willing to give Baron a chance to wow me, because this one was very different (in a good way!) from his last one.
The story begins as Joseph, a man in his late 30's, wakes up in a strange house, completely disoriented. He has no idea who he is, other than the fact that his name is Joseph, and he doesn't know what event landed him where he is now. He fleetingly remembers his wife, in snatches of memory that come and go, but he has no idea where she is or how he can find her. With little to guide him, Joseph sets out to find his wife, who he is sure is worried about him, and he takes Will, a teenager looking for adventure, along for the ride.
Meanwhile, Antoinette is an elderly woman living in a nursing home who is slowly losing her grip on reality. Rather than deal with the present she would rather sleep, where she has the most wonderful dreams about her deceased husband, Don, and all of the things that they used to do. Her son, Warren, recently divorced and now unemployed, visits his mother frequently, trying to replicate the wonderful recipes that she created when he was young in an attempt to lure her back to the present.
These three people are all searching for a very different version of home, and their journey to get there is an emotional ride.
I really enjoyed The Journey Home. I had no problems connecting with the characters, and I felt especially drawn to Joseph. His disorientation was heartbreaking; he followed smells and feelings in a desperate attempt to be reunited with his wife. He can't remember her name, or what her face looks like, but he can remember how much he loves her. I also enjoyed the character of Warren. Instead of becoming a broken man- he's freshly divorced, newly unemployed, and he's losing his mother to dementia and old age- he throws all of his energy into making his mother happy. The ending of Warren's story was definitely my favourite.
In fact, the best part of the book was the ending. This isn't to discount the beginning and middle of the book, it was just that the ending utterly surprised and pleased me. It isn't often that an author can surprise me with an ending (usually I can anticipate them well ahead of time). There was a point when I wondered how the story could possibly end that would make any sense, but Baron managed that and more. It's what made this book memorable.
This book is short (only 176 pages), but it packs a punch. The short length will also make it the perfect read for busy moms this summer, as it only took me a couple of hours to read it from start to finish. Thank-you to Lou at The Story Plant for sending me this review copy!
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Recommended to: Fans of women's fiction or Nicholas Sparks
Challenges: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge