Carol Bodensteiner’s debut novel, Go Away Home, is due out in July. I had the privilege of reading an advanced copy and thoroughly enjoyed it. Bodensteiner is best known for her series of essays, Growing Up Country, that capture life in rural Iowa. Her stories resonate with our patrons, and most especially with people who participate in our collaborative program with Iowa City Hospice that sends readers to local care centers for reading programs.
Go Away Home is set in rural northeast Iowa and focuses on the life of teenager Liddie Treadway. Liddie is a talented seamstress with dreams of moving to the big city of Maquoketa and leaving the farm behind her. Despite personal challenges, she does not lose sight of her dreams and eventually convinces her family to let her go. What Liddie learns in the big city surprises her and helps as she is forced to make decisions that affect the path her life takes.
Set against the backdrop of agrarian life, changes with the introduction of the automobile and gas-powered engines, changing roles of women, and foreboding before WWI, Go Away Home is a coming of age novel that is well-written, compelling, and endearing. Themes include family, friendship, choices, love and loss. There is a strong sense of place, excellent character development, and an engaging plot line. The story is well researched and I learned a lot about Iowa in the early 1900’s. I also thought a lot about my grandparents and what their lives must have been like at this time.
I highly recommend Carol Bodensteiner’s new novel. The Library has not placed an order for this book yet, but watch the catalog and place your hold. I anticipate it will be a popular novel with local readers and book groups.