Book Review: ‘The Distance Home: A Novel’ Looks At A Dysfunctional American Family

The Distance Home is a story about an American family in rural South Dakota in the early 60’s and up to today. How they grew up, the relationships between the parents, kids and everyone else around them. This story could be about any family (including your own).

Eve and Al are young and in love and want to get married. They have to wait until she is 18 and then they tie the know. They live in the basement of Al’s family and have to deal with his mother (who doesn’t really care for Eve or the marriage). Al is on the road a lot for business. When Eve becomes pregnant with their son Leon it makes the basement a bit tight on space. Then she has René and they move away to their own house.

The story centers mostly on the relationships of Leon and René and their rivalry as kids. Leon decided he liked dance at an early age and that did not sit well with Al. He basically shunned Leon his whole live. René also got into dance and they both became really good at it. Meanwhile Al and Eve just fought and fought a lot. He was gone a lot, complained about how things were at home and didn’t like how Leon acted. René was his pride and joy though. He would put most of his attention on her.

As the years went by Leon was a mess (drugs, alcohol) and he grew away from the family. Al was away more and more and Eve did what she could to try and keep her family together. As the story goes on we find out what ultimately happened to the whole family and how it happened.

This is author Paula Saunders debut novel and it’s a heart-warming story of a dysfunctional family that at its core loves each other but love isn’t always enough. It’s also a great look at the times of that period in South Dakota and also how Indians were perceived at the time. You get invested in the family from the beginning and you feel for them by the end. The mark of a truly good writer.

You can pick up The Distance Home in stores on Tuesday, August 7th from Random House.

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