Sing Them Home Hardcover – Large Print, Dec 1 2010
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"Fans of Ann Patchett and Haven Kimmel should dive onto the sofa one wintry weekend with Stephanie Kallos?s wonderfully transportive second novel."
?Entertainment Weekly () --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Stephanie Kallos spent twenty years in the theatre as an actor and teacher. She is the author of the bestselling, award-winning novel Broken for You, which has been translated into 10 languages. She lives in Seattle with her husband and two sons.--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
We all agreed that there were bits and pieces of the book that were interesting but, overall, it missed the mark. We thought it had the potential for a really good novel based on the premise of a mother dying in a natural disaster and the impact of that on her children. However, the author wasn't focused enough. Instead of an in-depth analysis of the characters, the reader's (and the author's) attention was distracted by: a fantasy representation of the dead which didn't really add to the plot (whatever that was); an exhaustive explanation of a town's burial practices which also didn't relate, except to provide a title. In addition, those burial rites were too fantastic to be believable. Frequent inclusions of Welsh were a distraction that disrupted possible enjoyment of the book. The ending was way too pat. It felt like the author had been told, after 500 pages, to 'wrap it up' and she did--with a very unoriginal conclusion.
I believe the book suffered from too little editing and too many flights of fancy. The author believes that where one adjective is good--seven is better--another distraction.
I would not recommend this book.
The novel was Ann-Marie MacDonald's 'Fall On Your Knees'.
'Sing Them Home' had me thinking of it regularly. In fact, there were moments where Ms Kallos' offering was so very good, that I felt much the same sentiment I'd related to the aforementioned bookseller. But at other moments...
'Close...but no cigar.'
This novel has some of the most emphatic, some of the most commanding, brilliant, lyrical writing I've had the pleasure to consume over the past few years. I was very much caught up in it, dazzled, moved.
But it also has some missteps that, in the end, reduced the book's eventual impact, its status for me.
It reaches for a lot. And let it be said, it grasps a lot, and in some delightful executions.
But it's not a masterpiece.
It's not an unforgettable piece of literature.
Maybe it could have been.
And maybe I'm being harsh. If I am, it's because there's so much at the start to fall in love with. To not be as nourished as you come to believe you're going to be...I confess to more than a little heartbroken.
I fear that her stamina...or that of her editor...was not sufficient to get her to the finish line with the same energy as her endeavour's start.
Ms Kallos is far more talented than most of the writers out there, certainly one of the most talented writers I've had the good fortune of reading. This novel might not be for everyone, it might be flawed, but it's a testimony to the quality if fiction currently available. Brava
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Sing them Home is a book about a family that is recovering from a tragedy. The beginning of the book starts with the death of Llewellyn Jones, the father of a family whose "mother went up and never came down" in a tornado in 1978. My expectation was that this book would be about grief, loss, and recovery, with, due to the section on the dead, a little bit of magic realism thrown in. This wasn't it.
One of the main character's of the book is Hope, the mother. We get to know Hope through her diary entries. I have to say that these were my favorite part of the book. Hope suffers from MS and her account of the progression of the disease is wonderful, as is her views on motherhood, marriage, life, etc. Hope is the most fully drawn character in the book and if it focused just on her it would be wonderful.
The characters of Hope's children, Larken, Gaelan and Bonnie while they have an interesting set up in the beginning, become bland by the end. An example of this is Bonnie the youngest Jones child. Her artifact hunting and speaking to the dead make for a very interesting character, but this is not explored enough and in the end Bonnie is almost conventional. Larken's eating issues are never fully explored. Did she have them as a child? And Gaelan's relationship problems? Were they due to the death of his mother? And Viney is never given enough explanation as well. There is no clear progression about the tornado, the death of their mother, and where they are in their lives and no progression about what makes them change.
Sing them Home is an enjoyable read, unfortunately, Stephanie Kallos, tries to do too much and in the end leaves much undone.
What was really disappointing was that somebody didn't edit this author a bit more. The entire first 40-50 pages could have been cut as backstory; it slowed down the action, and wasn't especially interesting. Uninteresting stuff about uninteresting characters; even an amateur writers' workshop could have spotted that, and professionals should have. She was also way too wordy; six similes were used where three would have been more than enough, and dream sequences (too frequent) went on so long that I found myself flipping ahead to the end of them. The text was riddled with spelling errors, and some characters even had different names on different pages. A lot of the characters' motivations, and what they did, seemed to be completely unrealistic and totally subjugated to flimsy plot needs. If Larken had had a panic attack on an airplane once before, why didn't she take a Valium before her plane flight? Seems to me that as a so-called responsible, intelligent person that'd be the realistic choice.
Another thing that really turned me off was the mushy sort of magical realism we're seeing in a lot of books lately. Dead people talking, holding jobs, thinking?? Spare me, please. Magical realism can be great in the right hands, and even work on the prairies -- look at early Louise Erdrich like "Love Medicine" or "Beet Queen" -- but if it's handled badly it just ends up looking dumb, which is what happened here. Stephanie Kallos may not be a bad writer overall, but I don't think she's skilled enough to be profound about grief or anything deep, and she came off as really reaching with this. Perhaps her third attempt will be better. The descriptions I've read of her first book make me shudder, and after reading this one I sure won't read that. But I might try one that has its feet more firmly on real ground.