Home Is Burning

Home Is Burning

by Dan Marshall
     
 

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For the Marshalls, laughter is the best medicine. Especially when combined with alcohol, pain pills, excessive cursing, sexual escapades, actual medicine, and more alcohol.

Meet Dan Marshall. 25, good job, great girlfriend, and living the dream life in sunny Los Angeles without a care in the world. Until his mother calls. And he ignores it, as you usually do when

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Overview

For the Marshalls, laughter is the best medicine. Especially when combined with alcohol, pain pills, excessive cursing, sexual escapades, actual medicine, and more alcohol.

Meet Dan Marshall. 25, good job, great girlfriend, and living the dream life in sunny Los Angeles without a care in the world. Until his mother calls. And he ignores it, as you usually do when Mom calls. Then she calls again. And again.

Dan thought things were going great at home. But it turns out his mom's cancer, which she had battled throughout his childhood with tenacity and a mouth foul enough to make a sailor blush, is back. And to add insult to injury, his loving father has been diagnosed with ALS.

Sayonara L.A., Dan is headed home to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Never has there been a more reluctant family reunion: His older sister is resentful, having stayed closer to home to bear the brunt of their mother's illness. His younger brother comes to lend a hand, giving up a journalism career and evenings cruising Chicago gay bars. His next younger sister, a sullen teenager, is a rebel with a cause. And his baby sister - through it all - can only think about her beloved dance troop. Dan returns to shouting matches at the dinner table, old flames knocking at the door, and a speech device programmed to help his father communicate that is as crude as the rest of them. But they put their petty differences aside and form Team Terminal, battling their parents' illnesses as best they can, when not otherwise distracted by the chaos that follows them wherever they go. Not even the family cats escape unscathed.

As Dan steps into his role as caregiver, wheelchair wrangler, and sibling referee, he watches pieces of his previous life slip away, and comes to realize that the further you stretch the ties that bind, the tighter they hold you together.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2015-07-27
In his first book, a 20-something recounts his battles with caring for a mother fighting cancer and a father with Lou Gehrig's disease. As a young professional newly graduated from college, Utah native Marshall was on top of the world. Not only did he and his siblings come from wealth and live with "the proverbial silver spoon jammed firmly up our asses"; he also had a job and girlfriend he loved in Los Angeles, a city he enjoyed for its "traffic and pollution and assholes speeding around in BMWs." The one shadow on his good fortune was having a mother sick with cancer. But even that difficulty was one Marshall and his family had overcome thanks to his father, a man who had held chaos at bay with his unflagging devotion to them all. Then one day, Marshall learned that his father had been diagnosed with ALS, a disease that was "a real ugly motherfucker and…pretty much a death sentence." At first, the family tried to carry on their lives as though nothing had changed. However, less than a year after the diagnosis, Marshall's siblings told him that he needed to come home to help care for both parents. It was then he realized that "life [wasn't] all about gin and tonics and sunsets." For the next year, Marshall watched as his once healthy and active father declined into near total helplessness and his traumatized mother reeled from chemotherapy and drugs that addled her brain. Relationships between him, his siblings, and his friends strained to the breaking point. Marshall then had to face his own personal losses, which included the end of a long-term relationship he believed would culminate in marriage. Though the author's potty-mouthed profanity can be trying, the book is funny, heartbreaking, and unapologetically crude. Strangely enough, as Marshall is forced into awareness of life's harsher realities and grows up, his linguistic coarseness gives way to a narrative that manages to be quite touching. A poignantly provocative memoir.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781250068828
Publisher:
Flatiron Books
Publication date:
10/20/2015
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
838,271