Wednesday, August 3, 2016

{Blog Tour} Home Field - Hannah Gersen (Review)

Home Field
by Hannah Gersen

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: July 26th 2016

Genre: Fiction

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The heart of Friday Night Lights meets the emotional resonance and nostalgia of My So-Called Life in this utterly moving debut novel about tradition, family, love, and football. 

As the high school football coach in his small, rural Maryland town, Dean is a hero who reorganized the athletic program and brought the state championship to the community. When he married Nicole—the beloved, town sweetheart—he seemed to have it all—until his troubled wife committed suicide. Now, everything Dean thought he knew about his life and the people in it is thrown off kilter as Nicole’s death forces him to re-evaluate all of his relationships, including those with his team and his three children.

Dean’s eleven-year old son Robbie is acting withdrawn, and running away from school to the local pizza parlor. Bry, who is only eight, is struggling to understand his mother’s untimely death. And nineteen-year- old Stephanie has just left for Swarthmore and is torn between her new identity as a rebellious and sophisticated college student, her responsibility towards her brothers, and feeling like she is still just a little girl who misses her mom. As Dean struggles to continue to lead his team to victory in light of his overwhelming personal loss, he must fix his fractured family—and himself. And what he discovers along the way is that he’ll never view the world in the same way again.

 Transporting you to the heart of small town America, Home Field is an unforgettable, poignant story about the pull of the past and the power of forgiveness.

This book follows Dean who recently lost his wife due to suicide.   Dean's wife Nicole had been living with what comes off as a form of depression her entire life.  She left behind her three children.  Stephanie who is going to be a freshman in college has transformed her life before Nicole passed and seems to be on the path of changing her life again.  Nicole also had two younger sons Robbie and Bryan.   Robbie was the one who had discovered his mother hanging from the noose in the barn.  The family is going through a difficult time recovering from all that happened and no one seems to know how to get passed the death or cope with what is going on.   Dean was a football coach at the local high school and he had to quit his job so he could spend more time with Robbie and Bryan. 

I loved how the story was told through two different characters points of view.  The story was basically told through Dean's and Stephanie's eyes, but we also got a look into Robbie towards the end of the story.  The author did a great job showing the different perspectives of the same situation.  Each character felt like they had some responsibility in Nicole's death and felt like someone could have prevented it.   The guilt that was coming through from Dean and Stephanie was almost overwhelming at parts. 

The author did a great job with the topic of suicide in my opinion. It is hard concept for some people to understand, but she took the time to explain what was going on with Nicole before she committed suicide.  We got a look at who Nicole was due to the flashbacks that the characters told us about.  I felt like when we learned she attempted to kill herself before and that everyone tried to fix it their own way, but that wasn't helping Nicole.  All of the characters had a weight on their shoulders due to Nicole's death.  We got to follow along as Dean and Stephanie both grieved. 

The small town atmosphere of the book was also perfect for the setting.  Everyone in town seemed to be somehow connected to Nicole and Dean.  If not from football, church, or even just seeing Nicole at a local country club.  I loved how connected everyone was in the story.  It made it easy to see the complications of everyone knowing your business and also adding to the grieving process. 

I didn't go with the 5 star rating because I felt a little like I needed some closure on Dean's racing coach status as well as what was going to happen with him and the children.  I would have loved a cleaner ending showing where everyone ended upThe story could have continued and gone in many different directions.  One event did bring everyone together, but where they going to be able to build passed that. 

I would suggest this as a nighttime read.  I felt like the book was easy to pickup and put down while maintaining your place.  I felt like the book gave you a lot to digest as well so their was natural stopping points. 

I received a copy of this book from The Fantastic Flying Book Club in exchange for an honest review.  This does not effect my opinion of this book. 

My Rating: 4/5

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Hannah Gersen was born in Maine and grew up in western Maryland. She is a staff writer for The Millions, and her writing has been published in the New York Times, Granta, and The Southern Review, among others. Home Field is her first novel. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

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