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Title: The Walk HomeBook Review Image
Author: Rachel Seiffert
ISBN: 978-0-307-90881-0
No. of Pages: 304
Genre: Fiction
Origins: Pantheon
Release Date: 8 July 2014
Bottom Line: Reflective, quiet, raw

The Walk Home by Rachel SeiffertSynopsis:

“Stevie comes from a long line of people who have cut and run. Just like he has.

Only he’s not so sure he was right to go. He’s been to London, taught himself to get by, and now he’s working as a laborer not so far from his childhood home in Glasgow. But Stevie hasn’t told his family—what’s left of them—that he’s back. Not yet.

He’s also not far from his uncle Eric, another one who left—for love this time. Stevie’s toughened himself up against that emotion. And as for his mother, Lindsey . . . well, she ran her whole life. From her father and Ireland, from her husband, and eventually from Stevie, too.

Moving between Stevie’s contemporary Glaswegian life and the story of his parents when they were young, The Walk Home is a powerful novel about the risk of love, and the madness and betrayals that can split a family. Without your past, who are you? Where does it leave you when you go against your family, turn your back on your home; when you defy the world you grew up in? If you cut your ties, will you cut yourself adrift? Yearning to belong exerts a powerful draw, and Stevie knows there are still people waiting for him to walk home.

An extraordinarily deft and humane writer, Rachel Seiffert tells us the truth about love and about hope.”

Thoughts:      One of the most interesting elements of The Walk Home is its depiction of the ongoing clashes between the Protestants and the Catholics in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Actually, some readers may find this aspect of the story surprising for it garners little media attention these days. In fact, it is a safe bet to say that when discussing current religious conflicts, that part of the world never even crosses one’s mind. Yet, here is a modern-day story in which the animosity between the two religions continues to cause tension and provoke violence. This not only adds additional conflict to the story, it creates a timeless quality to it as well. Stevie’s story could really occur in any decade.

The rest of the story is equally fraught with tension but of the kind that occurs within families. There are strong themes of duty and love, as every character must reconcile that the two are not always related and/or compatible. Eric, Lindsey, and Stevie are each characters who are unable to do so, and so they run away. It is their lessons learned, the outcome of their flight from family conflict, which creates the heart of the story. As one might expect, it is an emotionally fragile story because family drama is always a highly sensitive area.

While The Walk Home ends on a hopeful note, the rest of the story is bleak and frustrating. Between the poverty of the scheme, the financial difficulties of his family, the financial difficulties of his boss, and the lasting regret displayed by the characters about fights gone wrong or decisions made, it is not the type of novel that allows one to escape one’s real-world problems. Rather, it is the type of novel to force readers to pause and reflect on one’s own choices and opinions, to recognize the truth behind the adage of blood being thicker than water. In this regard, The Walk Home is a quiet, reflective story, still enjoyable even though it was written not so much to entertain but rather to educate.

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