Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My take on: The Shortest Way Home

It took me several months to finish The Shortest Way Home by Juliette Fay, but that's not because it was a bad book. It was a great book. I just get distracted by other books.

What did I love most about The Shortest Way Home? The family dynamic. Juliette Fay expertly captured how complex families can be. One moment you're running from your past, and the next you could be forced to face it. In The Shortest Way Home, Sean Doran has been on the run for 20 years. He's not running from the law, but from his future.

Sean has spent 20 years working as a nurse in war-torn areas. Those places were heaven compared to the storm waiting for him at home in Belham, Masschusetts. Moving from place to place and never putting down roots is the norm for Sean. He doesn't want to grow old with a wife, kids, and a white picket fence. His mother died of Huntington's Disease, and there is a 50% chance Sean will get it. It strikes in the mid-30s. At age 44, Sean would rather not get tested. Sean would rather not know his fate. He wants to end his life on his own terms in Mexico.

While Sean has been saving lives around the globe, his sister Deidre has been holding down the fort in their childhood home. Their brother Hugh died six years ago of pneumonia, but his son Kevin is deeply in need of guidance. Their feisty Aunt Vivvy is starting to show signs of dementia, and refuses to see a doctor. Deidre wants a life of her own. She wants to be an actress. She wants Sean to know how much she's given up to take care of Kevin and Aunt Vivvy. Sean can do so much for strangers, so why can't he do the same for his own family? Sean is truly burned out from all the travel, but in his mind a trip home is just temporary. He'll stay long enough to recharge his batteries, catchup with old friends and get to know his nephew. It's all temporary. He can't let himself get sucked in.

Of course Sean gets sucked back in. He realize how much life has passed him by. He doesn't know much about technology, especially computers, cell phones, and e-mail. He didn't know that Cormac, his best friend in high school, and his wife are struggling with fertility issues. He didn't know how much Kevin is struggling to fit in at school. He didn't know that shy Rebecca "Becky" Feingold had a crush on him in high school. After several weeks in town, Sean is struggling internally. He's reconnected with Cormac. He's helping Aunt Vivvy around the house. He's helping Kevin come out of his shell. Becky is helping him rebound physically and mentally. His relationship with Becky is going beyond friendship, it's a budding romance.. Sean is doing everything he hoped to avoid. He's connecting with people, and he is actually enjoying it. But there's still something very big hanging over his head. Huntington's Disease. He might be out of the woods, but the debilitating disease could take away everything. Is it better to know? Or is it better to live in the moment? Living in the moment might have worked for Sean in the past, but that won't do for everyone around him. Before going home, Sean thought he had everything figured out. But Becky and Kevin have altered his destiny. They've made him realize that a future might be possible.

The book is very well paced. On the surface, everything isn't what it seems. There's a lot of depth to most of the characters. I thought Deidre was a little one-note. She always seemed angry and a little self-absorbed. I wanted to like her, but I just didn't. Maybe that was intentional. She'd spent so much of her youth caring for her family, she was just ready to be selfish. Maybe her character was a way to show Sean that he needed to change. Overall, I loved the book, and would gladly read another book by Juliette Fay.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the book from FSB Associates in exchange for an honest review.

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