Review of The Journey Home

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MsH2k
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Review of The Journey Home

Post by MsH2k »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Journey Home" by Gabriel Bron.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Growing old can be both a blessing and a burden. With the passing of each year, there can be a greater sense of who you are, wisdom from life’s experiences, and satisfying relationships with family and friends. After the passing of a few more years, there can also be the increase of aches and pains, forgetfulness, and the need to slow your pace of life.

The Journey Home is a multi-sensory collection of vignettes by Gabriel Bron that chronicles his experiences with his parents during their last two years of life. The stories begin with a bridge game that unveils his mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The reader then accompanies the author through the ensuing conversations, memories, and decisions the family makes to adjust to the rapidly changing dynamics of their relationship. From the impressionist illustration introducing each story to the engulfing interaction the author shares in each account, the thirty-five entries are a moving experience. The impressionist style of art complemented the stage of life covered in this book: bold colors, shifting boundaries, a bit of sensory confusion, yet still very communicative.

The book was written in the first-person narrative from the perspective of Gabriel, the third of five children born to Mr. and Mrs. Bron. Gabriel has a unique combination of expertise and temperament to make him the perfect narrator for this collection. His background in linguistics, even specializing in the use of language in dementia, gave him a realistic interpretation of his mother’s thoughts when he switched to an omniscient first-person perspective during interactions with her.

Although I enjoyed the stories involving his mother, I have always been a daddy’s girl, and I found the most precious parts of the book to be his interactions with his father. His dad was a no-nonsense, hard-working World War II veteran who loved his family and was an expert at fixing problems: relationship, financial, baseball, any kind of problem. I admired that he gave up drinking without hesitation so that he wouldn’t miss anything while caring for his wife. I felt for him when he struggled with socializing after his wife’s Alzheimer’s advanced; he still had their shared friends and was not a widower, but he did not have the companionship or the social connection his wife had always supplied. He was a thoughtful man and was not afraid to make decisions that were in the best interest of his family.

While I appreciated the intentional design of the book to give the reader snapshots of this intimate time between the author and his parents, it would have been nice to know more about the other family members. For example, Gabriel’s older sister, Kate, was the primary caregiver and decision-making sibling regarding their parents’ affairs. She spent an incredible amount of time with their parents, but there was no mention if she had a spouse or children. I wondered who was supporting her while she was supporting her parents. Likewise, the author acknowledged he had two sons. It was obvious he did not live near his parents because he had to travel and rent a car when visiting them. But, as with Kate, there was no mention of any spouse or support system. Also, the other siblings were rarely referenced. This aspect of the read felt compartmentalized. It would have helped to understand the relationship his parents had with their other children and grandchildren, at least tangentially.

I rate The Journey Home 4 out of 4 stars. The previously noted observation did not affect my enjoyment of this peaceful, respectful, sometimes humorous, emotional read. The author skillfully shared the love between his father and mother and the love they had for their family. Those who have cared for an aging parent, relative, or spouse will identify with the emotions and scenes in this collection of vignettes. I also recommend this book to anyone who would like a glimpse of the beauty, difficulty, and reward in caring for those you love as they age.

******
The Journey Home
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"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."
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Fareed Regal
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Post by Fareed Regal »

Thank you for a really great review. Getting older is a part of life that we all have to experience. A book like this, plus the insights from your review, will help one to be better prepared and understand what lies ahead. A must-read for me!
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Post by Hussein21 »

Thanks for the review, being emotionally absent from your child can take a huge toll in the child life and I appreciate how the author pointed that out
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Post by Adaeze Joan »

Even from your review I can feel the love Mr Bron had for his family. This would make an interesting read. Thanks for the review
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Post by Adaeze Joan »

Even from your review I can feel the love Mr Bron had for his family. This would make an interesting read. Thanks for the review.
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Post by Apple 7 »

The review strongly highlights the bond shared on an individual and family level...very interesting review
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Post by Ghuddie »

Growing old can really be a blessing and a curse. Interesting book. I enjoyed reading through the review. Well done.
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Post by katerina_12 »

The book seems to be full of human difficulties, love and warmth. I think in my free time I definitely try. Thanks for such a detailed review!
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Post by Raymond N »

Getting old is inevitable. Thank you for your review.
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Post by Hana_Fabro »

Reading your review makes me get so emotional and feel the love of Gabriel to his parents. Thanks for your wonderful review.
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MsH2k
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Post by MsH2k »

Fareed Regal wrote: ↑08 Jan 2022, 04:39 Thank you for a really great review. Getting older is a part of life that we all have to experience. A book like this, plus the insights from your review, will help one to be better prepared and understand what lies ahead. A must-read for me!
This was a beautiful reading experience. It brought back loving memories of being a caregiver for my father during his last years. The author captured this season well. Thank you for your visit and your kind comment. Here's to must-reads to add to our lists this year! :fireworks:
"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."
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MsH2k
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Post by MsH2k »

Hussein21 wrote: ↑08 Jan 2022, 05:50 Thanks for the review, being emotionally absent from your child can take a huge toll in the child life and I appreciate how the author pointed that out
The author did a great job of sharing the relationship he had with his parents and how he connected with them differently. Thank you for your comment.
"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."
Mother Teresa
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MsH2k
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Post by MsH2k »

Hana_Fabro wrote: ↑09 Jan 2022, 19:22 Reading your review makes me get so emotional and feel the love of Gabriel to his parents. Thanks for your wonderful review.
It was an emotional read. I connected with the author's experience on many levels. I finished this book right before Christmas, and during the holidays, I kept thinking about his parents as if they were part of my family. Thank you for your comment.
"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."
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MsH2k
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Post by MsH2k »

katerina_12 wrote: ↑09 Jan 2022, 09:25 The book seems to be full of human difficulties, love and warmth. I think in my free time I definitely try. Thanks for such a detailed review!
It is a touching read indeed. The author has arranged the book so that you don’t have to read the stories all at once. I hope you have the chance to read it. Thank you for stopping by!
"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."
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Post by Raymonda Dazzy »

Not everyone gets old, it is the blessed that gets to experience old age. Having one to take care of you during that period as is the case if the author's parents is the real blessing. Thanks for the awesome review
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