The Distance Home

Paula Saunders. Random House, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-52550-874-8
Saunders debuts with a penetrating and insightful deconstruction of a Midwestern family. The story starts with Eve and Al, high school sweethearts who marry, have children, and find themselves mired in jealousy and misunderstanding. Throughout, Eve’s indomitable spirit won’t be quashed, no matter the conflicts or the despair that hover over her family. Firstborn Leon, an athlete with a penchant for ballet, is as opposite from his father as can be imagined. Middle child René, a fierce, competitive sprite, takes up ballet like her brother and can do no wrong in her father’s eyes, much to Eve’s consternation, whose heart lies with her first born. As the family moves from Missouri to South Dakota, where Al grows his cattle business and spends more time away from home, the story contrasts René, driven to achieve—despite the resentment it causes in everyone who crosses her path—and Leon, a misguided soul bearing his father’s wrath. The sweet, easygoing youngest child, Jayne, doesn’t get the same attention as the other characters. Still, Saunders brilliantly parses Leon and René’s disparate paths; they are two wildly talented, sensitive souls—one shattered by life’s circumstances, the other learning to soar above them. This debut wonderfully depicts the entire lifespan of a singular family. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/25/2018
Release date: 08/07/2018
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-525-50876-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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