4 out of 4 stars
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Home Again 2020 by Roberta M. Roy tells the story of the Matters family who encountered so many tragedies. When a nuclear meltdown struck their home in Ariana, it caused a brain injury to Lou Matters, and he lost his left vision. He moved to Ohio with his family and stayed in his sister-in-law's home to receive medical attention. The Matters later returned to Ariana and tried to move on from the tragedy. Their two boys went back to school, Mary, Lou's wife, resumed her job as a speech-language pathologist, where she worked with emotionally distressed students in a public school, and Lou started working on his defective side. Lou became a web designer since it was no longer safe to work as a nuclear engineer, considering his flawed body.
Another disaster struck them in January 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic forced all the schools into a shutdown, and the family had to stay at home. Their situation worsened when the country went into chaos due to the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. There was massive civil unrest. The story explains the Matters family's perseverance in facing and adapting to the different challenges that came their way.
Home Again 2020 evoked many emotions through the writer's ability to vividly express an event that brought many sentimental outpourings across the world. The author created engaging dialogues among the characters, which endeared me to them. Roberta also used a lot of creativity in developing the characters, and this is commendable. The author brought realism to the characters, making the reader relate to what each of the characters went through. I was touched deeply by the Matters family's situation and ability always to try to bounce back in love. For instance, despite Lou's condition, the family didn't treat him differently; Mary firmly acknowledged her husband and didn't make him feel like a lesser man, and the kids respected and loved their father even more. It is a captivating family story that outlines a lot of personal experiences the reader may have encountered, especially during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
I also want to commend the conversational writing style the author adopted. For a book this emotional, any other writing style would have made the book a lot more challenging to read. I even noticed that the author tried to communicate the characters' mannerisms through the dialogues. Here's an example of how Lou spoke: "Likewise. Whadidjado today?" It was evident that Lou couldn't speak polished English, and it made his character identifiable. Whenever a statement that looked like this was made, I knew it was Lou.
I had mixed feelings about the presentation of the research done to develop this story. As much as I expected the author to be factual regarding historical events, I didn't appreciate the numberings in between the text. They took away from the flow of the story. This is a historical fiction book and not a history text. This was the only complaint I had about the book. Though there were only a handful of errors, considering that the book contained only about 140 pages of readable text, I expected more from the editors. Therefore, I would recommend another round of editing. However, these concerns wouldn't be enough to take away any points from the book. I’d give it four out of four stars.
I will recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and those whose families face one challenge or the other. Also, if you are yet to recover from the perils of the Covid-19 pandemic, you can be inspired by this book.
Home Again 2020
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