Home Again to Gilead

The way back home is different for everyone, but in the new book Home by Marilynne Robinson, it is the same road readers traveled on with Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, Gilead, but from a different angle.

A companion piece to Gilead, Home reacquaints readers with the lives of certain members of the small town of Gilead, Iowa. Based in the late 1950s, Robinson’s latest work is a balming and yet complicated book about the long-awaited arrival home of a prodigal son.

Home takes us into the confines of a minister and his family’s deeply religious household through the eyes of Glory Boughton, the sister of the black sheep of the family, Jack Boughton, around whom the story revolves.

The story mainly keeps itself to the actual premises of the Boughton home. Three family members still living there; Jack, Glory, and their father Rev. Robert Boughton share the rooms and yard of the house as if it is the entire world. The majority of the story entails delicate and often difficult dealings from within the walls of the Boughton home. Here, Jack finds a somewhat comfortable but only temporary respite in while working out his personal dilemmas.

The book both pacifies and jolts with phrases of forgiveness and repentance alike. The thread of the story sometimes weaves into the issues of that time regarding race and human rights, where the ministerial theme in the book becomes called upon to acknowledge what the definition of grace is, and who gets it.

The ponderous, solid rhetoric within the pages of Gilead has easily flowed into this book as well, making Home a worthwhile and graceful work on reflection, forgiveness, and salvation, among other compelling topics, in its own right. This book is a must read.

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