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Posted April 4, 2010
Reviewed for Midwest Book Review
Although Thomas Flynn never attended college, he became a successful entrepreneur. All he wants for his son, Chris, is to see him go to college and succeed in life. But Chris has no interest in school and drifts toward a life of drugs and petty crime. Placed in a juvenile facility until 18, Chris takes a job with his father once he graduates high school. Although Flynn is disappointed in Chris and Chris resents his father's plans for his future, the two learn to work together without conflict. Thomas begins to hope that Chris is maturing and leaving behind the past, but when one of Chris's friends is murdered and Chris begins acting suspiciously, Flynn fears his son has slipped back into the past, to a place he can never leave behind.
The predominant theme is a character study of two men in a contentious relationship, one not uncommon to many fathers and sons. Through characters and plot, Pelecanos relays his own message concerning juvenile detention centers and rehabilitating young criminals. He adds suspense to the story with the murder of Chris's friend and nicely develops a back story reflecting on Chris's time in the juvenile facility, touching upon the injustices Chris endures in that center as well as his relationship with the other young boys facing the same fate.
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Posted May 14, 2010
Good Real Life Thriller
I enjoyed this book. I read a good review of it that compared him to Richard Price. That and his credits from "The Wire" convinced me to take a chance on this book. He is not quite up to Price's standard, but then that is a high bar.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Chris is from a good home in DC but he has become a delinquent. With several incidents already on his record, he attacks a man physically for no good reason and then starts a high speed reckless chase through the city streets, causing accidents and injuries. He spends time in a juvenile facility, where he is the only white boy, so that becomes his nickname. Then, the story jumps ahead about 8, 9 years. Chris is now working for his father's business, laying carpet. He is teamed with another former juvenile offender that he met inside. Another of them is now working with kids in DC, trying to set them up with employment to help them avoid lockup after they get into legal trouble. Another is a low life still using and up to no good, but also starting a little business for himself.
On a job, Chris and his partner find money beneath the floorboards. They decide to leave it there, at Chris's insistence. His partner tells the low life about it and he breaks in and steals the money. Predictably, the criminal who stashed the money there gets out of prison and goes to recover it. When it is not there, he tracks down Chris and his friends.
I had some problems with the plot seeming illogical at times. Chris could have turned the money over to the police and if no one claimed it, or if it was not linked to specific crimes, he could have ended up with the money. But, Chris still has problems dealing with the police, so although this is not said, he could have decided not to consider that option for that reason. Also, there are some inaccuracies in the book with the law and legal issues, which, being a lawyer, always bother me when I see them.
Posted February 1, 2010
I Also Recommend:
There is no one quite like Pelecanos; his writing is in a class all its own. I wish he published more often. This novel, like his others, has it all. Depth, humor, emotion. Like Elmore Leonard but with a little more heart. Now I have to go back to the mundane world of novels until he comes out with a new one. Can't wait!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 2, 2009
Unusual characters, unpredictable plot - satisfying read!
The Way Home draws you in quickly and deeply. I couldn't help but sympathize with and become invested in what happened to Chris Flynn and his friend Ben Braswell. Complex and flawed, Chris comes across so clearly and authentically. His regret, his uncertainty and his desire to change make Chris one of the most interesting characters that I've come across in a while. Unlike most of his fellow inmates in the juvenile detention center, Chris came from a supportive middle class family. Upon his release, his parents rallied around him and celebrated his return. They helped train him, find gainful employment and gave him the sense that his life can continue to improve. Part of Chris's sense of disquiet comes from the difference between himself and his fellow inmates. He recognizes that his good fortune and he tries to behave decently to those around him. Chris's best friend Ben had a very different background. Ben's mother had died young from a drug overdose and he'd been in various foster homes until he entered juvenile detention. But since having been released, working for Flynn's Floors with Chris, and with his love of reading, Ben had moved beyond the dark places of his past and "looked forward to learning something new each day."Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
The difficult and complicated relationship between Chris and his father Thomas Flynn of Flynn's Floors adds to the complexity and richness of the story. Carefully crafted with the numerous plot twists and unusual characters, The Way Home an unpredictable and satisfying read.
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (May 12, 2009), 336 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Posted November 6, 2009
Same old stuff
George writes about the stuff he knows. All of his books are centered on the DC area. I would love to see George write something different. His books are just too dark for me. Mildly entertaining, but it leaves your wanting more depth.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
George has come a long way from the days when he was selling shoes at the Bootlegger.
Posted October 7, 2009
Readable but not Memorable
Pelecanos writes well in a terse, kinetic way. His people are real and the situations are familiar and real. One is involved when reading this book but one tends to forget the plot and characters soon after finishing the book. The Way Home is like a good meal from your favorite diner- fun while there but hardly a topic of conversation after.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 21, 2009
The Way Home
This is the first time I read this author and have to say that I had a really hard time putting this book down. This is an amazing novel, a page turner from the first few pages to the last page. Mr. Pelecanos makes you feel like you know the characters, like you are right there beside them.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I am looking forward reading more books by this talented author.
Posted September 15, 2009
The Way Home by George PelecanosWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Chris Flynn is a bad kid, always in trouble and disappointing his father. He steals, he does drugs, he skips school, any trouble he can get into. But then Chris gets caught and goes to juvenile detention. After Chris gets out, he tries to live a different life. He goes to work for his father, installing carpets with a friend from juvie, Ben. One day, Chris and Ben are replacing a carpet for a real estate agent that also flips houses. They find a bag hidden in the floor, it contains fifty thousand dollars. Ben wants to take it, but Chris says no. He's been working hard to get his life back on track and win the respect of his Dad. But Ben can't keep his mouth shut and the money disappears. That money belongs to someone and he wants it back. Chris is torn between who he has become and who he used to be.
This was a really great read, well-written and moved quickly. Part suspense, part social commentary, and part father-son relationships.
Pelecanos introduces us to Chris's world in juvenile detention and how he and his friends fare in the adult world. And how lucky Chris is to have a family waiting for him after he gets out of jail. Chris's father is disappointed in him, but refuses to give up and is always there for him. Chris is a well-rounded, likable character, and I couldn't help but root for him, hoping he will make the right choices. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it. I think I will be checking out other work by this writer.
Posted September 10, 2009
Posted June 29, 2009
Pelecanos' newest about redemption and evil
I've read almost everything George Pelecanos has written over the years. His writing for The Wire for television is first rate. In this new novel and in his last, The Night Gardener, he seems to have put to rest his own past. He deals with redemption and believes it possible but recognizes some are so flawed, so damaged, they are not salvageable. This is a novel about a father and a son who matures. He knows the real DC, a world unrelated to the political realm and government and knows soul music like few others I have read. There is less about music but he is a keen observer of real people with real problems and issues. He is comfortable discussing race and his characters live in a real world with tension and racism and deep friendship and community. This is excellent and moving writing.
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Posted May 30, 2009
Posted May 21, 2009
Is It The Right Way?
This modest book about troubled families and troubled teens is an interesting read, yet offers little new on the subjects at hand. I did enjoy reading the copy which I paid for, as no publishers send me advance copies. There are plenty worse books out there, so if you have an interest in the subject matter, buy your copy today.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 2, 2009
In DC, seventeen year old Chris Flynn knows he grew up in a comfortable home with loving parents nurturing him. Somehow along the way "Bad Chris" emerged as a rebel seeking trouble: "Good Chris" goes dormant. On drugs, he gets into a car accident and almost kills the other driver when they discuss the cause. He gives the cops a run for their money, but eventually is sent to Pine Ridge juvenile detention facility; his angry perturbed father seeks to blame someone else while his mother is devastated. At Pine Ridge, Chris makes friends with other troubled youth who teach him how to hide "Bad Chris" from civilians and when to allow "Bad Chris" to take control. ------------Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
A decade later, Chris seems to have straightened himself out. One day he and his peer find money that he thinks they should ignore. Soon afterward two killers demand Chris hand over what he stole or else. He knows that to survive he needs to free "Bad Chris".----------------
THE WAY HOME is an exciting character study of a young male who struggles with inner demons while knowing he has let down his mom, fears he will let down his nice girlfriend, and is not sure whether he cares that he lets down his dad. Although a key element to the lead character's behavior is his relationship with his father; that disturbed link is explored on a surface level without digging deep into either's psyche re this issue. Ironically George Pelecanos does enable his audience to understand "Good and Bad Chris", just not what either side of the protagonist thinks of his dad beyond the shallow musings. Still aptly titled, fans will enjoy Mr. Pelecanos' profound look at a troubled person ------------------------------
Posted April 3, 2009
Could Have Been Better!
I want to thank the author for sending me an advance copy and am sorry that I cannot give the book a higher rating. The story centers on Chris Flynn and his father, Thomas Flynn. Chris had all the advantages growing up that most middle class kids have. Somewhere in his teens Chris became a renegade, who got into trouble. He no longer cared about school and he was doing minor thefts. Some of this may have been related to his relationship with his father but that only becomes clear later on in the book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
One day Chris gets into an argument with another driver after a street accident and he does something stupid that gets him sent to a juvenile prison facility. While there Chris gets in with a gang of other troubled youths that he forms a friendship with and stays friends after they get out.
Chris goes to work for his father and one day he and his partner find alot of money on a job. Chris tells the friend to leave it alone because the money will cause nothing but trouble. Sometime later the friend talks to someone else about the money and it causes a great deal of trouble that will take the story all the way to the climax.
I felt very let down by this book, partly because the author spends a lot of pages describing things that could have been said in a paragraph. He also does very little to really explain the inner thoughts of Chris or his father so the reader never really cares about them. Also, when Chris is in the prison, the reader keeps anticipating something big happening and actually very little does.
As the author is always on the bestseller list, I am sure most of his other books are superior so I would recommend starting with one of the books first.
Posted June 30, 2009
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