Sing Them Home

Sing Them Home

3.8 39
by Stephanie Kallos
     
 

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"From the best-selling author of Broken for You comes a sweeping, gorgeously crafted family story set in the American heartland. In Sing Them Home, we enter the lives of the Jones siblings, who have lived in the shadow of unresolved grief since their mother's mysterious disappearance when they were children." "Everyone in Emlyn Springs, Nebraska, knows the story of…  See more details below

Overview

"From the best-selling author of Broken for You comes a sweeping, gorgeously crafted family story set in the American heartland. In Sing Them Home, we enter the lives of the Jones siblings, who have lived in the shadow of unresolved grief since their mother's mysterious disappearance when they were children." "Everyone in Emlyn Springs, Nebraska, knows the story of Hope Jones, the physician's wife whose big dreams for their tiny town were lost along with her in the tornado that tore through the town in 1978. For Hope's three young children, the stability of life with their distant, preoccupied father, and with Viney, their mother's spitfire best friend, is no match for their mother's absence. Larken, the eldest, is now an art history professor who seeks in food an answer to a less tangible hunger; Gaelan, the only son, is a telegenic weatherman who devotes his life to predicting the unpredictable and whose profession - and all too much more - depends on his sculpted frame and ready smile; and Bonnie, the baby of the family, is a self-proclaimed archivist who combs the roadsides and fields for clues to her mother's legacy, and permission, finally, to move on. When, decades after their mother's disappearance, they are summoned home upon their father's sudden death, all are forced to revisit the childhood tragedy at the center of their lives." With breathtaking lyricism, wisdom, and humor, Stephanie Kallas explores the consequences of protecting the ones we love, and conjures an extraordinary cast of characters teeming with quirks, strengths, blind spots, and secrets. Sing Them Home is a magnificent tapestry of lives connected and undone by tragedy, lives poised - unbeknownst to thecharacters themselves - for redemption.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Kallos's second novel tells the story of the three Jones children, Larken, Gaelen and Bonnie, as they try to come to terms with their mother's mysterious death after she is swallowed up by a tornado that touched down in their small town in Nebraska. The children must live their life under the microscope of the townspeople's collective interest while trying to create their own life and legacy and distance themselves from their mother's death. Tavia Gilbert brings additional vibrancy to Kallos's original and affecting novel. Gilbert manages to capture the underlying melancholy of the novel while creating complex and believable characters. With a compelling stage presence, she brings this story to life with an inspired reading that demonstrates her performance ability and creative sensibility. A Grove/Atlantic hardcover (Reviews, Sept. 1). (Jan.)

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Library Journal

The Jones family would seem to have no luck. Aneira Hope Jones, already terminally ill, was swept away by a tornado in 1978. Now her husband has been felled by lightning, and his longtime mistress, Viney-best friend to his wife and virtually the stepmother of his three children-must rally alientated, overweight art scholar Larken; sex-obsessed Gaelen, a famed weatherman mostly because of his family history; and their slightly nutty little sister, Bonnie. The Jones siblings have had far from perfect lives. But they're also rooted in the warm and sensible little town of Emlyn, NE, proud of its Welsh heritage, and this fresh, invigorating novel fingers carefully through their pain. Kallos (Broken for You) doesn't rip her characters apart, just tenderly shows us their failings as they stumble, in a realistic and satisfying manner, toward better selves. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ8/08.]
—Barbara Hoffert

From the Publisher

“Fans of Ann Patchett and Haven Kimmel should dive onto the sofa one wintry weekend with Stephanie Kallos’s wonderfully transportive second novel, Sing Them Home. . . . [A] keenly empathetic description of life in . . . . Emlyn Springs, one of those all-too-rare small towns in literature, rich in personality but mercifully free of broad, condescending cliché. . . . As the novel floats back and forth from past to present, Kallos patiently reveals the hurt and longing that’s pounding beneath the surface . . . [and] the ending may leave you feeling so wistful for these strange, sad people that you find yourself fantasizing about a trip to Nebraska.”—Entertainment Weekly (A-)

“With empathy and wit, Kallos weaves together the stories of the living and the dead, creating a world in which love trumps loss and faith can summon redemption. The result is a magical novel that even cynics will close with a smile.”—People (3½ out of 4 stars)

"Sing Them Home constantly surprises, changing voices, viewpoints, and tempos, mixing humor and pathos, and introducing a big cast of vividly portrayed characters, major and minor. Readers who admired Kallos’s first novel, Broken for You, will likely embrace Sing Them Home, and it will embrace them in return. It’s that sort of book.”—Boston Globe

Sing Them Home is simply wonderful. It’s a welcome tonic to those of us who look back with great longing to Anne Tyler’s early novels. . . . that is, those of us hungry for books with quirky, flawed, yet realistic and beloved characters who leap off the page into our arms and refuse to leave. I didn’t want Sing Them Home ever to end.”—KUOW/NPR online

“[Sing Them Home] is a book written for cold winter nights by the fire. . . . Kallos excels at teasing out the emotional damage wrought by [the Jones siblings’] absent mother and remote father. . . . [She] is working in a vast landscape here, both emotional and physical [and] she handles it all with grace, giving each character and plotline a satisfying finish, like chords resolving themselves.”—The Dallas Morning News

“[Sing Them Home] is a welcome reminder that good contemporary writing can still move slowly. . . . The reader is left with a feeling that the author, the story and the characters have somehow been uncommonly generous in their presentation. . . . Death, loss and remembering are integral parts of the story, and the language of the book can be, at times, wonderfully elegiac and ruminative. . . . [Kallos’s] own genuine emotion infuses and drives the story.”—St. Louis Dispatch

“Not since the Wizard of Oz has a tornado been used to such potent literary effect. . . . Dorothy may have thought that there’s no place like home, but what happens when there’s no house left at the old address, and no real parent figure to go home to? The Jones siblings take a further step down the road to enlightenment: They learn that home is where the heart is. . . . Kallos performs ample wizardry in blending both tears and quirky humor in this tale of lost souls.”— Seattle Times

“Deeply satisfying . . . Kallos’s skillful depiction of grief, love, and healing contains moments of lyrical transcendence, which is only fitting in a novel about the power of song.”—Charlotte Observer

“A beautiful book narrated in a style that flirts with magical realism . . . [Sing Them Home is] a multidimensional, complex, and fascinating tale. . . . An ambitious novel, full of vivid characters and intriguing secrets. And the setting is unforgettable. . . . Kallos deftly slips between dream and reality, between the watchful dead and those they've left behind. It's an imaginative and absorbing novel.”—The Rocky Mountain News

“Beneath its glinting surface, Kallos’s heartland is alive with secrets and complexities. . . . [Kallos] strikes the right chord, finding a balance between idealization and scorn in [her] treatment of small-town America. . . . At its core, Sing Them Home is a classic story of finding redemption by returning home.”—The Oregonian

“Kallos has a remarkable vocabulary and a gift of defining things and situations efficiently, often in very few words. . . . We learn to love [the Jones siblings] and to hope that they stumble toward their better selves and receive redemption. I read the closing pages twice and closed the book with a satisfied smile. She sang them home.”--Lincoln Journal Star

“Stephanie Kallos’s second novel is a complex, haunting story of a family shaped by tragedy. . . . Kallos nimbly moves from character to character, filling in the past and hinting at what’s to come without being obvious or overbearing. Her beautifully written story weaves together lives, places and emotions, and resonates with tiny details that only later show their significance.”—The Wichita Eagle

“A compelling portrait of three adult siblings struggling to come to terms with their father’s sudden death. . . . Kallos writes with sympathetic insight into the quirks of each of the survivors, bringing her readers a family saga tinged with mysticism, humor and pathos, and peopled with characters not soon forgotten.”—Bookpage

“In Sing Them Home . . . [Kallos] returns to her themes of family conflict, long-held secrets, and the changes wrought by death, while broadening her scope to explore these themes in the context of a truly unique fictional town, Emlyn Springs, Nebraska. . . . Sing Them Home is a sensitive, deeply perceptive portrayal of a family in transition. Kallos has a keenly observant eye, which she uses to comment obliquely on academia, celebrity culture, and small-town politics. She also seems to have a genuine affection for and understanding of small towns like Emlyn Springs. . . . Kallos serves as a wry but knowledgeable tour guide to the world she has created. By the last page, readers will feel like they've become not only honorary members of the Jones family but also vital members of the Emlyn Springs community.”—BOOK REPORTER.com

“In the dense tapestry of Sing Them Home, Kallos has landed on her feet . . . dodging the dreaded sophomore jinx of the second novel. . . She’s still poking at the open wounds of abandonment, loss, and grief, and yes, there’s another strong dose of magic realism, but now there’s also heft and an edge of darkness. . . . Kallos writes uncommonly good novels. There’s the nuance and close focus of the short story, where a plot hinges on a single detail, but there’s also the sweep and wide horizon of a saga. Kallos may be a bit . . . fond of the happy ending, less god of her universe than fairy godmother, but in this rocky moment in our uncertain world, it’s hard to find fault with that.”—Barnes & Noble Reviews

Sing Them Home ushers us into small-town life, with all its distinctive cultural nuances, eccentric personalities, and homegrown secrets. With the same beauty and lyricism of her first novel, Broken for You, Kallos stitches together a colorful patchwork of memories and images, creating a rich narrative fabric that develops and changes as it passes through each character’s hands.”—Booklist

“[An] engaging family saga.”—The Seattle-Post Intelligencer

“[A] fresh, invigorating novel . . . Kallos tenderly shows us [her characters’] failings as they stumble, in a realistic and satisfying manner, toward better selves. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“Kallos’s enthralling second novel takes the reader by storm. . . . [Sing Them Home] will find a welcome audience in anyone who has experienced grief, struggled with family ties or, most importantly, appreciates blossoming talent.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Sing Them Home is delightful. The characters are fascinating. . . . It is deeply moving and funny.”—Daily American

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781410436023
Publisher:
Gale Group
Publication date:
12/20/2010
Edition description:
Large Print Edition
Pages:
904
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.80(d)

Meet the Author

Stephanie Kallos spent twenty years in the theater as an actress and teacher, and her short fiction has been nominated for both a Raymond Carver Award and a Pushcart Prize. She is the author of the highly-acclaimed novel, Broken for You, which won the 2005 Pacific Northwest Bookseller Association Award and was selected by Sue Monk Kidd for Today’s Book Club, going on to become a national best-seller.

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Sing Them Home 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
evsays More than 1 year ago
My husband and I read this book to each other on a recent trip while one of us was driving. We loved it and continued to talk about it after reading it. We have also given it as a gift.
Megan_Fisher More than 1 year ago
Stephanie Kallos's first book Broken For You is the reason I searched for her second novel's debut early on as I felt her first book's plot and integration of characters provided a wonderful read with a redemptive ending that most women (at least) crave and desire. As I began this book, I wondered if I would like her characters when she began in her Prologue and first chapter with some that were dead! I kept on reading and got hooked however, and even her use of the dead talking somehow fit more into the plot later on, given the youngest daughter Bonnie's particular early assimilation of life. Revealed in this second novel are three siblings, two sisters and a brother, who are part of a mid-Western dysfunctional family, each who end up with a redemptive ending in their own way.

I was impressed with how this author interweaved the mother's diary entries (over 17 years of time) with the present day of the characters' lives. Though hard to do, it worked for me, even though the diary notes at times were long and involved conversations and I wonder if any person would really write the dialog down like that. However, the diary entries gave a huge insight into Hope, the mother of these three children, and her motivations and her view of life's reality as she saw and experienced it, and thus it gave us insight also into her children and their subsequent acting out of their own lives.

I was fascinated with the fact that Ms Kallos wove this story out of a real part of her own history as the plot sounds so far-fetched. Also I was intrigued with the Welsh traditions of funerals which I assume are real as I think Ms. Kallos researched her material well on all fronts as expressed in her Acknowledgments in the end of the book. Part of me wanted to experience this myself as it must be a very unique cultural background that only the Welsh could claim. I would have loved to have heard the Welsh words and the singing harmony of the townspeople!

Since I feel all novels should offer a redemptive ending, I found this one satiated my own reader's palate. I ended up with a feel-good glow as the book's ending provided a double entendre of the book's title, "Sing Them Home."
jessie2 More than 1 year ago
This book was easy to read, but an interesting psychological portrait of how different people deal with tragic events, all wrapped up in a novel that reads like popular fiction. I loved all the characters, Viney was wonderful as were both the girls. Thouroughly enjoyed this novel that was funny and sad all at the same time.
Frisbeesage More than 1 year ago
Sing Them Home is a beautiful, generous story about family, community, love and grief. In 1978 a tornado sweeps through the town of Emlyn Springs, Nebraska taking Hope Jones with it. She is never found and this is the story of how her three children live with the grief of her mysterious disappearance. But this book is so much more then the basic plot. Stephanie Kallos has a magical way of weaving characters and setting with weather and atmosphere until it is a real jolt to wrench yourself from the pages and find you aren't actually in Emlyn Springs. Her characters become real people who you will worry over and laugh with even after you put the book down!
This is one of the best books I read in 2008 and will make a great Christmas gift.
lovemybookclub More than 1 year ago
Wonderful characters in a small town filled with quirky people who love and care for one another. I read all the time and I can't waste my time on poorly and hastily written books. Time was not wasted with this book. It is the kind of read that sticks with you, fills you with satisfaction yet leaves you wanting more. I am going to read S. Kallos first book and hope it is as good as this one. A wonderful book for a book club with lots of symbolism and great topics to discuss. Great book.
audybookworm More than 1 year ago
I read Broken for You and loved it! I could not wait to purchase the latest book. I just began reading and could not even get past 150 pages. Certain authors you can depend on such as Wally Lamb, Ms Kallos you cannot. Did she have a ghost writer?
donnareads911 More than 1 year ago
This book grabbed me from the first page. The characters are engaging, the story pulls you along at a perfect clip, and I hated the book to end. It has a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, and it's touching, without being sappy. Annnnd it's a great length. Don't you hate those "potato chip" books that take you, oh, about the time to eat a bag of chips and leaves you with "I gotta have another one" feeling? This one fills you up, only it takes more than a day. It's also a book about family, and all of our problems, (and don't we all have a few), and working through them in a richly embroidered story. A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A bit slow. I found most of the characters unlikable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Those who fell in love with Broken For You (and I rate it in my top 5 books of all time) could be disappointed in Sing Them Home. The quirky and compelling characters of her first book are replaced by characters in Sing Them Home who are merely irritating in their dysfunctional whininess. The pacing of their development also tends to increase their annoying qualities since none of the siblings seem to have any self-insight at all. One of Kallos's great strengths as a writer comes from her background in acting and stage settings--she provides the requisite detail of behaviors, surroundings, and "props" to fully realize her characters and bring them vividly to life. That strength was not as in evidence in Sing Them Home. The plot is sufficiently off-beat and dramatic enough to engender some interest, but again the pacing is too slow and by the time you have finished the book, you are simply relieved. For anyone who has lived through tornados, there is nothing implausible about the plot, although the fantasy elements clearly are not subject to the "plausibility" definition. Mostly, I was sad that the book did not fulfill my high expectations. I read close to 200 books a year and on the strength of my love for Broken for You, I would buy anything that Kallos wrote. I probably would not again buy multiple copies of her books as gifts until after I had read the book, just to be certain that it met my standards for recommending and giving it. So, while I would say it's worth reading, it's not in the same class as Broken for You. I'm hoping her next effort will be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. There is a tenderness toward the characters that shows both their frailty and their strength. Funny, tender, sad yet hopeful, this is a great read!
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This is a book about ordinary people from a small town in Nebraska. While I love books about family life, this is a strange almost dysfunctional family. The loss of their mother when the children were small seems to have hindered their ability to have normal lives. The Welsh traditions of this small town are very interesting.
Pamagd More than 1 year ago
Unless you just honestly hate yourself or are stuck in a prison cell with nothing else to read I would give this one a pass. Of the half dozen plotlines that meander through the first 200 pages I was only interested in two. I read through the many, many, MANY descriptions of practically nothing to find a conclusion to those two plot lines and was disappointed in both.
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SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
Sing Them Home is a big book with 540 pages. It's a big story too, with travels that span the world, relationships that span societal mores, and families that span life and death. But it's centered in the tiny town of Emlyn Springs, Nebraska, and in the family of Hope Jones, who disappeared in a tornado long ago and never returned. It's a story, filled with time-spanning sense of place, about Hope's children who have each, in their own way, lost their place in the world. It's about the wind that tears things apart, and the way things come back together, not the same, but still as real and just as complete. And it's about the littlest sister, the one who maybe wasn't quite complete from the start, who somehow seems to give completeness to everyone else. The death of Hope's husband many years later brings the family back. They return to the town's deep Welsh traditions where the dead are "sung home," to the town's sweet expectations, even those that can't be expressed, and to each other. The wonderful stepmother deals with heartbreak and disillusion on her way to forgiveness. The self-centered brother learns to center himself on something other than image. The stubbornly separate sister finds acceptance. The lonely find love. The pages run the gamut of emotions, from Hope's diary of hope's retreat, to lost children, to Viney's very real bereavement, to the kindness and cruelties of strangers. All of it is so very real and absorbing that the book becomes hard to put down. Wrenched heartstrings remain somehow always sure that the tune will play sweetly again, as indeed, it does. The writing sings. And the characters finally, each on their own surprising path, all find their way home.
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