Parting is such sweet sorrow, but reunions — well, those can be complicated. The following narratives explore all the heartache, drama, and joy of returning home and reconnecting with your loved ones after an extended time away.
9 Touching Books About Returning Home
By Brandon Miller
We Are the Brennans
By Tracey Lange
In Tracey Lange’s We Are the Brennans, Sunday Brennan returns home to New York and her tight-knit Irish Catholic family after a bad car accident caused by her drunkenness. Five years prior, Sunday had bolted for Los Angeles, with little explanation and many questions left unanswered. Needless to say, her return opens up a number of familial wounds, but she’s determined to rebuild her life and heal her relationships with her loved ones. Tracey Lange’s debut is a deeply felt narrative about shame, guilt, and the power of family. Ultimately, even though the Brennans’ past is filled with secrets, it’s their love for one another that helps guide them through the chaos.
The Bookshop of Yesterdays
By Amy Meyerson
In this charming bestseller by Amy Meyerson, Miranda Brooks inherits her uncle’s bookstore even though he disappeared from her life 16 years earlier. Uncle Billy was an enigmatic man known for his scavenger hunts. When Miranda returns to Los Angeles to take over the bookstore, she discovers that Billy has left behind clues — clues that lead Miranda into Billy’s past and towards the family secret that shattered his relationship with Miranda’s mother years ago.
By Marilynne Robinson
Marilynne Robinson’s Home is a highly celebrated novel about family, faith, and coming home, and it’s a companion piece to the author’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel Gilead. Home centers on Jack Boughton — the troubled son of the pious Reverend Boughton — who returns to his family after 20 years away. Now an alcoholic, Jack must find a way to heal from his traumas, atone for his past, and make peace with his father, who still considers Jack his favorite child. At the same time, Jack forges a powerful and complex relationship with his sister Glory, who has also returned home after experiencing heartbreak.
The Family Fang
By Kevin Wilson
When Kevin Wilson’s The Family Fang came out in 2011, a wide array of publications named it one of the top books of the year — and anyone who’s read Wilson’s bestselling novel knows exactly why. The Family Fang is an uproarious tale about family dysfunction in all of its tragicomic glory. After years away, siblings Annie and Buster Fang are forced to return home to their famous outré artist parents, Caleb and Camille Fang. Growing up in the Fang household was anything but typical. Now under the same roof for the first time in a long while, the Fang clan must learn to coexist and find peace with one another, setting the stage for conflict, chaos, and hilarity
By J. Courtney Sullivan
The title of J. Courtney Sullivan’s Maine doesn’t give a lot away, so here’s the gist: This is a story about family, unconditional love, and the power of one very special beachfront property. In the touching novel, three generations of Kelleher women descend upon their family cottage in Vacationland, with plenty of family baggage in tow. As they settle into the cottage and attempt to unwind, the Kellehers must confront long-simmering grudges if they hope to understand why — despite sibling rivalries, Catholic guilt, and a host of other issues — they return to the property every summer.
The House We Grew Up In
By Lisa Jewell
In this New York Times bestseller, Lisa Jewell introduces us to the Bird family, a happy clan devastated by an unspeakable tragedy one Easter weekend. Years later, the now-grown Bird children return to their childhood home to reconnect with their mother, Lorelai, who has become a reclusive hoarder. Together they must come to terms with the secrets that have plagued their family and kept them from fully processing the tragic events of so long ago.
By Attica Locke
Attica Locke’s celebrated Bluebird, Bluebird is many things. It’s a story about law and order, featuring Texas Ranger Darren Matthews, who has returned home to work in East Texas in the name of duty. It’s an expertly paced mystery, infused with themes of race and justice, as Matthews — a Black officer — investigates the murder of a Black man and a white woman in the small Texas town of Lark. Finally, it’s a vividly rendered novel set in the hardscrabble South, with the vast Texas landscape playing an integral role in the captivating narrative.
By Jhumpa Lahiri
In The Namesake, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jhumpa Lahiri delivers an enchanting multigenerational tale about unbreakable family bonds and the eternal pull of home. The sweeping New York Times bestseller follows the Ganguli family, originally from Calcutta, as they resettle in America and navigate the immigrant experience. Members of the family — particularly firstborn Gogol — must balance the demands of assimilating to American life with their connections to their culture, traditions, and heritage. Spanning Calcutta to Boston to New York City, The Namesake is a poignant tale of generational divide and the search for one’s place in the world.
By Colm Tóibín
Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn — which was the basis for the 2015 award-winning movie starring Saoirse Ronan — is a beautiful coming-of-age novel that explores the ever-shifting meaning of home. In the New York Times bestseller, Eilis Lacey leaves her mother and sister behind in Ireland as she sets sail for America after she’s sponsored by an Irish priest in Brooklyn. Just as Eilis’s new life in the States begins to blossom, including a dazzling love affair with Italian American Tony Fiorello, tragedy forces her back to her homeland. Upon returning, however, Eilis realizes that “home” may no longer be in Ireland.