Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt | Teen Ink

Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt

February 7, 2008
By Anonymous

Imagine having to trek your to a far off place you know nothing about. Also, imagine that you have a measly, miniscule, next-to-nothing amount of money, making your budget tighter than two cows in a bathtub. Finally, imagine you're only 13 years old and you have to feed not only yourself but your 3 siblings each night or risk a dreadful death via starvation. This scenario I placed into your cranium illustrates Homecoming to a tee. Homecoming, a book that will keep you on the edge of your seat, will grab your attention and not let go.

Homecoming, a book with a pretty outlandish plot, entices the reader straight away when the mom leaves to the store and fails to return. The result of this horrendously horrific crime is Dicey, the oldest of the quartet of siblings left high and dry, who's only 13, and has to take herself and the other 3 to Bridgeport by herself. At this point I realized the book had something g to do with survival. As I read on I also realized the siblings only had $7.50, so getting to Bridgeport unscathed, let alone at all, was going to be harder than blowing smoke through a key hole. Despite her puzzling predicament, Dicey manages to scrounge up enough food every night, even though her budget is tighter than a shoe 5 sizes to small, to feed herself and her siblings. Since the kids make their way through Connecticut okay, except for a minor head injury to James because of falling off some big rocks, and without starving, I think the theme of the book is people can overcome almost anything.

In my estimation, the setting is one of the best parts of the book. Since the kids are always on the move, in an attempt to make it to Bridgeport, the promise land, there is a new setting almost everyday. One thing that the settings have in common, though, is they are usually in a remote area and usually outside. I think this kind of setting adds excitement, flair, and suspense because with a new setting everyday you never know what to expect. Will they get food? Will the kids be fond of where they have to stay? Will this place change their journey completely? Also, with the setting being outside and in a remote area you're constantly on your toes because you know they're vulnerable. This means at any time someone can catch them and take them to an orphanage or an animal can see them and give them the honor of being its breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I guess you could say the setting is the bread and butter of the book, why I like it so much, and why I'm commending it.

I have a few real robust reasons why I like this book. First, I like the creative characters. You have the oldest sibling, Dicey, with her cleverness and quick-thinking, who is the leader of the quartet and will hopefully get the kids to Bridgeport, James, the oldest boy, with his intellect and his ingenious ideas, who acts as a right-hand-man to Dicey in this journey, Sammy, the youngest boy, with his strong stubbornness and ongoing griping, who acts as a road block in this trip, and Maybeth, the youngest girl, with her silence and cooperation, who tries to not act like a burden to Dicey and just keeps on going on this trek. I think the way these four personalities clash is at times funny, amusing, and awkward, but always great. Also, I think with a dash of Dicey, a dollop of James, a pinch of Maybeth and a sprinkle of Sammy mixed together you get a perfect character soup. Secondly, I think the plot is perfect. The book is all about survival. I think this is so immensely ingenious because when people cherish their lives they will do anything to keep from croaking. What I mean by this is you never know what will happen! Will the children eat dirt because of lack of food? Will one of the siblings resort to cannibalism? Will the group break into a random parked car just to get some shelter? With all the things that can happen you haven't a clue what to expect! Finally, I love the superb sensory images the author includes. She really lets me know what the place the children are in looks like. An example of this is when the author, Cynthia Voigt, says, “ They put the two bags down and looked about them. Hulking gray rocks broke through the earth at irregular intervals; some so large you could climb to the top and sit looking down. A faint path led off to the east.” instead of saying, “ They put the two bags down and looked abut them. The area around them was big.” I think the fact that the author really takes her time painting a picture when describing where the children are is wonderful because if I don't know where the character/s is/are I don't know what's going on. If I don't know what's going on I tend to tune out. Since the author does describe the places the children are though, I don't tune out, can appreciate the book, and can appreciate the author's delightful description. I guess you could say I have reason to like this book.

I definitely have reason to enjoy this book, but, unfortunately, I have reason to play the role of a critique and point out its not-so-impressive parts also. First, I don't like the lack of action. Even though the situation, four young kids traveling on their own with barely any money, presents a lot of danger, horrific possibilities, and possible harm, nothing enticingly bad ever happens. It seems like everyday all that takes place is the kids wake up, begin their commute, stop after a few hours for lunch, and continue to go on their way until they reach a respectable enough resting place. Another thing I don't like about this book is how realistic it is. I know what you're thinking, “This guy's a nut case. Four kids traveling miles and miles to a place they've never been to doesn't have half a chance of happening in real life.” I'm not talking about the plot though, it seems like a pretty ludicrous, farfetched idea. I'm talking about everything else. Let's face it, most people's lives aren't jam packed with moments that will keep you on the edge of your seat, get your pulse pounding, or make you want to sit back, relax, and, as Terrel Owens says,” Get the popcorn ready.” Therefore, I don't think it would kill the author of this book to add a few out-of-the-ordinary, unrealistic scenes here and there to catch the reader off guard and, if the reader wasn't paying attention because of the boring reality, put the reader back on track. A final thing I'm not in love with is the beginning. I'm not talking about the general beginning where the reader finds out the four siblings have been left high and dry and will have to travel to Bridgeport, which, in all likelihood, leaves the reader shocked and wanting to see what will happen. I'm talking about the first few pages where the author just throws the reader into the situation without as much as a page or two of background information. All she does is give the reader dialogue of, at first, the mother and then the children. Sure, you eventually get an idea of what's going on, but while you're trying to put the “situation puzzle” together your mind is hard at work thinking, not focusing on the text, and you may lose the first few pages. Also, having the reader flustered isn't exactly a fantastic way to get he/she to want to keep reading. As you can see, although I have reason to commend it, I have reason to criticize this book.

In conclusion, I think Homecoming will pull you in and then keep you pretty glued. I think the plot is intriguing, the setting enticing, and the characters exceptional. Also, I would recommend it. Sure, it's not the best book you'll ever lay your eyes on and it does have a few not-so-superb things about it but all in all the author did a pretty good job writing the thing. I guess what I'm trying to say is if your looking for an interesting book with a unique plot, Homecoming is the book for you.

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This article has 2 comments.

Homecoming said...
on Sep. 30 2011 at 6:15 pm

i will love to read this book haha


Homecoming said...
on Sep. 30 2011 at 6:13 pm

This book is so sad because the mother of the children abandonedthe kids and the are looking for a home .

Read this book is a really good book