Desert Isle Keeper
No Place Like Home
No Place Like Home is the third book I’ve read in 2002, and with such an auspicious beginning, I can only feel hopeful about what this new year will bring. What a beautiful story this was!
Jewel Sabatino is smack dab in the middle of the hardest part of her life when she receives news that she has inherited some property from her aunt. Things aren’t too wonderful in New York City for Jewel right now. Her best friend, Michael, is dying of AIDS and dependent on her for care, and she and her teenage son are about to lose their apartment due to a real estate takeover. So going home again seems like the most practical thing to do. The only problem is that Jewel left her hometown of Pueblo, Colorado in a blaze of glory and scandal twenty some years ago and she doesn’t know if her family – and more specifically, her father – will be willing to take her back into the fold. And she also doesn’t know if she really wants them to. When she was growing up, the fold was a rather confining place to be.
In the midst of all this is the escalating problem of Michael. Jewel wants to make the time he has left special and meaningful, so she writes to his younger brother telling him to come to Pueblo and spend some time with Michael. But she is unprepared for the reality of the younger brother. Malachi Shaunnessey arrives in a cloud of dust on a big motorcycle and is just her type – a gorgeous Bad Boy. The same type who twenty years ago invited her to go for a ride that took them all the way to New York. Malachi is exactly what Jewel doesn’t need right now. Or is he?
This was a beautifully written, emotionally engrossing read. The longing and regret that Jewel feels when she comes home is palpable and very affecting. Her family has gone on without her, and now she must figure out how to relate to all of them, a very hard task. Samuel fully explores the positive and negative aspects of living in a community that knows everything about you and doesn’t necessarily approve of it all.
The characters came alive as well. Jewel is fully fleshed out, a complicated individual who craves her family and heritage as much as she craves her independence. The secondary characters are remarkable as well, and this is a credit to Samuel’s writing, since the book is told in the first person point of view. Michael is magnetic, a charismatic individual with an effortless dignity. It is easy to see why Jewel loves him so, and interesting to observe the intricacies of their friendship. Jewel’s son Shane is also well drawn, and Malachi is very enticing.
The best part about the book is in watching how Jewel interacts with everyone. Her friends and family clearly see her differently than she sees herself, and this is interesting to observe. It was both funny and sad to see her reapproach her sisters and parents. I laughed out loud several times and cried in a couple of spots. And though Malachi is not the main focus of the book, their relationship is well done – full of fun and sexual tension.
I have two small quibbles. The first is that I was slightly let down by how Jewel’s relationship problems with her father are resolved. Since there is so much volatile tension between them, I was expecting something different than what actually happened. And it would have been nice if Michael had been dying of something other than AIDS which seems a rather cliche choice of disease for a gay man.
No Place Like Home is a wonderful book, and I fully recommend it. I liked it even better than In the Midnight Rain, and that is surely saying something. Don’t be put off by the hardcover price; this one’s too good to miss.