2013 All Iowa Reads

by on November 20th, 2012
2013 All Iowa Reads Cover Image

The Year We Left Home by National Book Award author Jean Thompson has been selected as the 2013 All Iowa Reads book.  As we approach 2013, think about setting a New Year’s Resolution to read this wonderful book and then plan a discussion with family, friends or neighbors.  Or – watch the Iowa Center for the Book’s All Iowa Reads webpage and plan to attend one of the many book discussions planned throughout the State.

Thompson’s The Year We Left Home begins in 1973 when the Erickson Family of Grenada, Iowa (near Ames) gathers for a family wedding.  The story unfolds over the next 30 years through the eyes of the main characters.  Ryan Erickson plans to escape small town life and begins his escape with studies in the “big city” at the University of Iowa.  Newlywed Anita hopes for a fairytale life in her hometown, Blake dreams of a different life, and younger sister Torrie plans for her own escape.  Cousin Chip, a war-damaged Vietnam Veteran, fluctuates between a need for freedom and the strong draw of home.

I believe this is my favorite All Iowa Reads book so far.  I was a third-grader in Iowa in 1973 and many of the events described in the book are memories from my childhood.  Lyrical writing helps me remember my experiences of cold Iowa winter days and the joy of an Iowa spring or fall.  Memories such as the end of the Vietnam War, Farm Crisis, and Farah Fawcett hair represented my coming-of-age years and personal vacillation between wanting to “escape” from Iowa, love I have for my community, and ultimate decision to make a life here.

After you read this book, please let me know what you think. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  If not, I’d like to know what you thought about it.  Happy Holidays!

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