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Another Way Home: A Single Father's Story

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Thorndike was a twenty-four-year-old Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador in 1967 when he met Clarisa, a vibrant and lovely Salvadoran girl, just nineteen. They fell in love, married, and in 1970 their son, Janir, was born. For the first year, Clarisa was devoted to her baby and rarely left his side. But slowly she began a terrifying drift into schizophrenia, behaving in ways that endangered her son's life. Fearing for his safety, Thorndike made the wrenching decision to bring Janir back to the United States and ...
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Overview

Thorndike was a twenty-four-year-old Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador in 1967 when he met Clarisa, a vibrant and lovely Salvadoran girl, just nineteen. They fell in love, married, and in 1970 their son, Janir, was born. For the first year, Clarisa was devoted to her baby and rarely left his side. But slowly she began a terrifying drift into schizophrenia, behaving in ways that endangered her son's life. Fearing for his safety, Thorndike made the wrenching decision to bring Janir back to the United States and raise him alone. This is the poignant account of their life together: their tender moments, their pitched battles, their heartbreaking reunions with Clarisa. Early on, Thorndike discovered how all-consuming it is to raise a child. Yet the rewards were enormous, and seldom has a child been so alive on the page. Whining, giggling, wildly exhilarated or inconsolably sad, this is a real kid in an eloquent and unforgettable book.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
This beautifully written and haunting memoir by novelist Thorndike (Anna Delaney's Child) primarily deals with how he raised his son without a partner. In 1967, when Thorndike was a 24-year-old Peace Corps worker in El Salvador, he met and married 19-year-old Clarissa. She drifted away from him emotionally after the birth of their son, Janir, and soon began exhibiting dangerous schizophrenic behavior. With Janir's welfare foremost in his mind, Thorndike returned to the U.S. with his son and bought a farm in Ohio. Although this account of Janir's childhood is filled with moments of joy between father and son, Thorndike makes clear that hard work and loneliness are often the lot of a single parent. Not wishing to deprive Janir of a mother, he encouraged Clarissa's visits, but their reunions were never free from his former wife's destructive behavior. The author's heartbreaking concern for Clarissa and strong love and commitment to his son, who is now a grown man, shines through this bittersweet story.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This beautifully written and haunting memoir by novelist Thorndike (Anna Delaney's Child) primarily deals with how he raised his son without a partner. In 1967, when Thorndike was a 24-year-old Peace Corps worker in El Salvador, he met and married 19-year-old Clarissa. She drifted away from him emotionally after the birth of their son, Janir, and soon began exhibiting dangerous schizophrenic behavior. With Janir's welfare foremost in his mind, Thorndike returned to the U.S. with his son and bought a farm in Ohio. Although this account of Janir's childhood is filled with moments of joy between father and son, Thorndike makes clear that hard work and loneliness are often the lot of a single parent. Not wishing to deprive Janir of a mother, he encouraged Clarissa's visits, but their reunions were never free from his former wife's destructive behavior. The author's heartbreaking concern for Clarissa and strong love and commitment to his son, who is now a grown man, shines through this bittersweet story. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
A painfully beckoning memoir of a guy raising his son solo after his wife slips away into madness.

Novelist Thorndike (The Potato Baron, 1989, etc.) was a young Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador when he met Clarisa in 1967. She was 19, he 24, and love came easily. Clarisa had gone to school in San Francisco and spoke flawless English. They were footloose, fancy-free, and looking for an alternative lifestyle. They married and moved to a farm in Chile, and Clarisa gave birth to their son, Janir, in 1970. At first, Thorndike admired Clarisa's impetuousness, her contrariness, and her mothering: She couldn't get enough of Janir. Then her slow, cruel slide into schizophrenia began. The closeness between mother and child was replaced by a gathering distance; she would rage at the boy, giving him a sharp pinch for good measure. They returned to El Salvador. There, Clarisa stayed out all night; she demanded a car, then smashed its windshield "to feel the wind in her face as she drove"; she reeked of dope. Thorndike left for Ohio, with Clarisa's agreement and with Janir. What followed were hard days and nights of fathering alone. Thorndike relates with simplicity and clarity the all-consuming nature of being a single parent, the terrors of child-rearing, the loneliness as he failed to find a mate, the rhythm of the days he spent farming the land and forging a tight intimacy with his son. The love is so palpable, so sugar-free and recognizable, it makes the heart ache. Clarisa continued to materialize for increasingly chaotic and gruesome reunions, until she tendered the 10-year-old Janir a hit of LSD ("Eat this, but don't tell your dad"). She eventually committed suicide, jumping from the fire escape of a shabby hotel.

Stormy and pungent, a story that makes you count family blessings, no matter how meager.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517705421
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/30/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.31 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.05 (d)

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