3 out of 4 stars
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The Home by Frank R. Southers is a character-driven story about a young boy named Johnny Porter. Johnny’s father has raised him by himself since he was 3 years old. Johnny’s mother is basically not part of his life. They live in a housing project that is designed for low-income families. When the book starts, Johnny already knows that his father is dying of cancer and will have to go to a nursing home. When he is 13 years old, Johnny is forced to leave his whole life behind and move to St. Paul’s Children’s Home. The book focuses on Johnny’s life growing up in the orphanage and is told entirely from the young boy’s perspective. Johnny wants desperately to be part of a real family and to belong. Will he ever have the family he longs for, or is he destined to be an orphan forever? Find out in this heartwarming and sobering fictional tale that is based on a true story.
I really liked Johnny as a character. He had more knowledge, experience, and maturity than people usually have at his age. Despite having a very difficult life, Johnny was also very sweet and loving. He faced many challenges and went through a lot of heartaches. More than anything, Johnny wanted to be part of a family. Many times in the book, it seemed like his wish would finally come true. However, something would always go wrong. Johnny was very likable and well-developed, and it was incredibly easy to root for him and want to see him succeed.
I also enjoyed that the book was written in first person and focused solely on Johnny’s experiences. It made the book very relatable and endearing. Even though the book was written from the point of view of a 13-year-old boy, the subject matter was very serious and important. It definitely wasn’t a typical book for young adults. The author made the reader feel very connected to Johnny. There were obviously other minor characters in the book, but Johnny narrated everything. The readers always knew what he was going through and what he was feeling. This was a very realistic look into how a young boy was growing up as an orphan. I also liked that the book dealt with serious issues but had humor in it as well. The themes of loneliness and not belonging were very evident, but Johnny still had friendships, happiness, and fun in his life too.
The only negative that I could find in the book was that it occasionally moved a little slow. That was understandable because the book focused heavily on the main character. This was a story about a young boy’s life and his thoughts. It was an introspective book that wasn’t very plot-driven at all. There were also details added that could have been excluded. I felt like the book did drag at certain points and could have used a bit more action.
I’m rating this book 3 out of 4 stars. I liked Johnny a lot. He had many amazing qualities and had such a difficult life. Personally, I was rooting for him the whole time. I also enjoyed the way the author drew the readers into Johnny’s story. The choice to have the book be entirely from Johnny’s point of view was the right decision. I liked knowing what Johnny was feeling and thinking. I appreciated that the book focused on weighty issues and themes but also included lighthearted moments. The fact that the book was very professionally edited was also a plus. I’m taking a star away because the book did move slowly in certain parts and dragged in some places. I would recommend this book to teenagers and adults that like character-driven stories that deal with serious topics but still contain some humor.
The Home, a novel
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