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The Way Home

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Christopher Flynn is trying to get it right. After years of trouble and rebellion that enraged his father and nearly cost him his life, he has a steady job in his father's company, he's seriously dating a woman he respects, and, aside from the distrust that lingers in his father's eyes, his mistakes are firmly in the past. One day on the job, Chris and his partner come acro Christopher Flynn is trying to get it right. After years of trouble and rebellion that enraged his father and nearly cost him his life, he has a steady job in his father's company, he's seriously dating a woman he respects, and, aside from the distrust that lingers in his father's eyes, his mistakes are firmly in the past. One day on the job, Chris and his partner come across a temptation almost too big to resist. Chris does the right thing, but old habits and instincts rise to the surface, threatening this new-found stability with sudden treachery and violence. With his father and his most trusted friends, he takes one last chance to blast past the demons trying to pull him back. Like Richard Price or William Kennedy, Pelecanos pushes his characters to the extremes, their redemption that much sweeter because it is so hard fought. Pelecanos has long been celebrated for his unerring ability to portray the conflicts men feel as they search and struggle for power and love in a world that is often harsh and unforgiving but can ultimately be filled with beauty.


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Christopher Flynn is trying to get it right. After years of trouble and rebellion that enraged his father and nearly cost him his life, he has a steady job in his father's company, he's seriously dating a woman he respects, and, aside from the distrust that lingers in his father's eyes, his mistakes are firmly in the past. One day on the job, Chris and his partner come acro Christopher Flynn is trying to get it right. After years of trouble and rebellion that enraged his father and nearly cost him his life, he has a steady job in his father's company, he's seriously dating a woman he respects, and, aside from the distrust that lingers in his father's eyes, his mistakes are firmly in the past. One day on the job, Chris and his partner come across a temptation almost too big to resist. Chris does the right thing, but old habits and instincts rise to the surface, threatening this new-found stability with sudden treachery and violence. With his father and his most trusted friends, he takes one last chance to blast past the demons trying to pull him back. Like Richard Price or William Kennedy, Pelecanos pushes his characters to the extremes, their redemption that much sweeter because it is so hard fought. Pelecanos has long been celebrated for his unerring ability to portray the conflicts men feel as they search and struggle for power and love in a world that is often harsh and unforgiving but can ultimately be filled with beauty.

30 review for The Way Home

  1. 5 out of 5

    Orsodimondo

    THE WIRE Anche attori e registi importanti dicono che le serie televisive si spingono in territori di sperimentazione che il cinema ormai diserta (per inseguire piuttosto sequel, prequel, remake, spin off, videogiochi, fumetti…): le serie televisive, sia per il linguaggio narrativo che quello visivo, adesso hanno preso il ruolo del cinema, diventato invece sempre più mainstream. ”The Wire”, la serie tv della HBO in cinque stagioni. Pelecanos è stato tra i creatori. E il primo aspetto che colpisce THE WIRE Anche attori e registi importanti dicono che le serie televisive si spingono in territori di sperimentazione che il cinema ormai diserta (per inseguire piuttosto sequel, prequel, remake, spin off, videogiochi, fumetti…): le serie televisive, sia per il linguaggio narrativo che quello visivo, adesso hanno preso il ruolo del cinema, diventato invece sempre più mainstream. ”The Wire”, la serie tv della HBO in cinque stagioni. Pelecanos è stato tra i creatori. E il primo aspetto che colpisce i grandi attori e i grandi registi avvicinandosi a una serie televisiva è la possibilità di poter “raccontare” i personaggi: avendo più tempo a disposizione, i personaggi possono arricchirsi di molti più dettagli, e informazioni, e aspetti, e sfaccettature, e profondità, e spessore, e… Esperienza mai così forte come nella serie “The Wire”, che Pelecanos ha prodotto e in parte scritto: si tratta della serie televisiva che ha rimescolato le regole del racconto poliziesco, dove le linee orizzontali sono nettamente predominanti rispetto a quelle verticali. Ed è proprio quello che fa George Pelecanos nei suoi libri, pur restando in un numero di pagine contenuto: i suoi personaggi sono così ricchi e rotondi e scolpiti, che esistono, ci sono, rimangono, vivono. Pur utilizzando lo strumento della suspense, il racconto è soprattutto centrato sui personaggi. Non sono eroi, per nulla sovraumani, ma anzi molto quotidiani, molto simili alla gente che s’incrocia per strada, a quella che conosciamo, simili a noi [Ma lui voleva che io diventassi migliore di lui. E invece sono solo un essere umano, proprio come lui.] I suoi libri non sono infarciti di action, di eventi e colpi di scena: i suoi romanzi hanno un andamento più lento della media, un tempo “andante”. Questo è il suo quarto romanzo che leggo. E anche qui ho trovato momenti che mi hanno colpito, che mi hanno saputo stupire. Per esempio, il commento di Pelecanos dopo che i due brutti ceffi se ne vanno e lasciano vivere l’immobiliarista; un flash mentale prima del confronto finale; il racconto di Ben che impara a leggere e scopre la bellezza e la ricchezza della lettura [Fu come indossare per la prima volta un paio di occhiali da vista. Il mondo sembrava un posto nuovo.] Devo dire che non sono mai stato così tanto d’accordo con uno strillo di copertina come quello del NYT che riporto: George Pelecanos è uno degli scrittori che sposta i confini del thriller nel territorio della letteratura. È lo scrittore che mi ha fatto tornare ad amare la crime story, il thriller, il noir. O, forse, i suoi sono romanzi fuori da qualsiasi genere dove sono accentuate le sfumature criminali. In fondo, La strada di casa è semplicemente un romanzo, scritto in modo magnifico, sull’adolescenza, sul rapporto tra figli e genitori, sulle attese e sulla crescita e le responsabilità. Un’altra bella serie cui Pelecanos ha partecipato attivamente è “The Deuce”, sempre HBO, per ora alla prima stagione. Nella seconda molto probabilmente debutterà alla regia la protagonista femminile, Maggie Gyllenhaal.

  2. 4 out of 5

    D. Pow

    The Way Home is another stellar effort from George Pelecanos, one of the greatest working writers in America today. Though Pelecanos works under the aegis of crime writer his novels have become vastly more encompassing than that, so acute at displaying American Dreams, lost & found, and so spot on in the rare and exact eye he puts on the working class and under class of the Washington DC area that it becomes increasingly apparent that his work is serious and lasting literature, and that he The Way Home is another stellar effort from George Pelecanos, one of the greatest working writers in America today. Though Pelecanos works under the aegis of crime writer his novels have become vastly more encompassing than that, so acute at displaying American Dreams, lost & found, and so spot on in the rare and exact eye he puts on the working class and under class of the Washington DC area that it becomes increasingly apparent that his work is serious and lasting literature, and that he is as valuable to his time, and as discerning in his judgments as Mailer, Baldwin or Raymond Chandler were in theirs. The Way Home is a tale of fathers and sons, of Thomas and Chris Flynn. Chris, is a teen screw-up and pot head with a violent streak, who finally goes too far and ends up in juvenile detention for a serious crime. Thomas, his father, is a good man, albeit a man who is sometimes incapable of making the necessary gesture that will calm his addled son and bring him back into the firm and loving embrace of his family. In juvenile hall Chris meets kids, mostly urban blacks, who are tougher than him, who come from backgrounds of such unrelenting hopelessness, devoid of firm guidance, that his own suburban upbringing is brought into stark relief as a thing both fragile and worth retaining. Chris serves his time, not without violent incident, and maybe even learns a lesson or two. Back outside and a few years down the road he is working for his father’s carpet installing business, even bringing along some of his buddies from the correctional facility. Through no fault of his own events transpire that bring Chris and his friends back into a situation outside the law, where Chris needs to look long and hard about who he really is, what sacrifices he would make, what he would be willing to do in the name of justice and revenge. The people that Chris and buddies run up against are such another order of wicked that the confrontation serves as both a delineation of what is really bad-assed and what is kids pretending and a case study in how the longer you are institutionalized the more dehumanized you become. Personal Aside: I was a bit of a fuck-up myself as a young man. I can certainly identify with the trajectory of Chris’ journey. My late teens and early twenties included halfway houses, juvenile hall, petty crime, vagrancy, drunk tanks and 72 hr holds in psychiatric wards. It was a rough journey from teen mess to adulthood and I had no paragon of virtue parent like Thomas Flynn to guide the way home. A new and weird wrinkle of reading coming of age texts: for the longest time I identified primarily with the teen/young man making the perilous journey. Now that I have a teen of my own, I feel much more fiercely the pain and hurt of the parents, the frustration, almost endless worry, anger, sadness and joy of trying to help a young man become the best version of himself he can be. This identification with both narrative paths leads to a richer, if somewhat schizophrenic, reading experience. Some More Words on Pelecanos and The Way Home. Pelecanos started off writing neo-traditionalist noir, hard-boiled tales stuffed with femme fatales, muscle cars and dripping with venomous dialogue and enough pop cultural references and specific musical cues to make Tarentino green with envy. His voice has become mature, a tad mellower, he is now an American traditionalist in the Clint Eastwood vein. And while he can write violence as well as anyone, he is more interested in portraying the consequences of violence now, it’s soul-killing aspects, the way it plagues perpetrators as well as victims, and infects whole communities with it’s virulence. Pelecanos, if he is known at all by the general public, is probably known more for his work on the great TV series, The Wire, than he is for his novels. The Wire at one time had Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane and Richard Price all writing on it, surely the first time three such august novelists worked on one show at one time. Pelecanos lacks the verbal agility and easy lyricism of Price, but he doesn’t give you those awkward moments were his too pretty prose pulls you out of the action as Price often does. His prose is workman like, gritty and heart-felt, never over-wrought or turgid; all his epiphanies are rooted in the character’s development not in empty rhetorical embellishment. He also is not as ham-fisted as Lehane can sometimes be(or as successful-his books sell 1/10th the amount of copies-there’s a crime for you). Pelecanos has written not one but three historical novels(The Big Blowdown, Hard Revolution & King Suckerman) and has caught every bit of each milieu(1940’s, 1960’s, 1970’s) with detail that is true, apt and exciting. Lehane in his big epic, That Given Day, was embarrassingly inept with the African-American characters. Pelecanos, a Greek American, has been writing with power, respect and admirable empathy of Black Americans for his entire career. While it isn’t for me, a white writer, to say how well another white writer ‘gets’ the black experience, the fact that he takes such pains with his craft to get it right is surely worth something. The Way Home is both a conservative novel in that it upholds the validity of the family unit and the lessons of the father as worthwhile. It is a liberal novel in that it admits that here in America, self-styled greatest nation in the world, that some children are born lost by poverty, race and generations of repetitive violence, only escaping their dire downward trajectories by the utmost effort, luck and the prodigious help of others. Sure Pelecanos believes in The American Dream; he also knows it’s rigged.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    Chris Flynn is a troubled youth from DC and after some brushes with the law, finds himself in reform school. Upon his release, he is walking the straight and narrow, working for his father, when he and a friend stumble upon a gym bag full of money on a carpet laying job. They don't take the money but it goes missing anyway and the owners come gunning for them. Can Chris stay on the right path or will he fall back into his old ways? In The Way Home, Pelecanos revisits themes from some his earlier Chris Flynn is a troubled youth from DC and after some brushes with the law, finds himself in reform school. Upon his release, he is walking the straight and narrow, working for his father, when he and a friend stumble upon a gym bag full of money on a carpet laying job. They don't take the money but it goes missing anyway and the owners come gunning for them. Can Chris stay on the right path or will he fall back into his old ways? In The Way Home, Pelecanos revisits themes from some his earlier books: sons struggling to live up to the expectations of their fathers and how hard it is to not fall back into bad behavior patterns. The book is split almost in half, the first half depicting Chris's life before and during reform school and the second portion details Chris's adult life, struggling to stay out of trouble. Cars, basketball, and music are the frequent topics of conversation, as per usual. Chris Flynn, the lead, is a troubled man with a rocky relationship with his father. I think a lot of fathers want their sons to do better than they have but don't know how to go about encouraging them. I know mine didn't and neither did Chris's. I found myself relating a little too much to Chris, both before he went into reform school and the reformed outlook after he came out. Like a lot of Pelecanos books, he takes a fairly standard crime plot, the found money, and uses it as a device to showcase his nuanced characters. Besides Chris, the rest of the cast is also a well realized group. Ali and Ben have become responsible since leaving reform school. Lawrence has not. Chris's father Thomas owns a carpet business and has a strained relationship with his son, both before and after reform school. The villains of the piece were certainly vile but weren't that complicated and served more as plot devices than characters. The ending reminded me of the ending of a few other Pelecanos books, most notably Drama City. In a lot of ways, The Way Home is Drama City 2.0. It had a very cinematic feel at times and I could easily picture it being made into a movie. This one is right on the line of being a three or four. I guess I'm rounding up. I was tempted to drop it down to a 3 because it reminded me so much of Drama City but I still liked it quite a bit. 4 out of 5 stars.

  4. 5 out of 5

    James Thane

    This is a solid effort from George Pelecanos, but it suffers by comparison to some of his better books. Its principal themes involve the relationship between fathers and sons and the inadequacies of the juvenile justice system. But you get the feeling that Pelecanos is so determined to focus on these issues that he occasionally allows the story suffer for it. The main protagonist, Chris Flynn, lost his way as a teenager, but for reasons that aren't entirely clear. He comes from a solid, two-paren This is a solid effort from George Pelecanos, but it suffers by comparison to some of his better books. Its principal themes involve the relationship between fathers and sons and the inadequacies of the juvenile justice system. But you get the feeling that Pelecanos is so determined to focus on these issues that he occasionally allows the story suffer for it. The main protagonist, Chris Flynn, lost his way as a teenager, but for reasons that aren't entirely clear. He comes from a solid, two-parent household, and while his father might be on the stricter end of the scale, there's no clear explanation for why Chris goes off the rails. But after a number of scrapes with the law, he winds up incarcerated in a juvenile jail. Ultimately, Chris is released and determines to turn his life around. He goes to work as an installer for his father's carpet company and convinces his father to take on a couple of the other young men that Chris met while in juvie prison. However, just as Chris seems to be getting his act together, he faces a serious temptation that seems just a bit too contrived. The decision that he makes in the face of that temptation will have far-reaching consequences for a number of people and will significantly impact Chris Flynn's determination to find his way home. Despite my concerns, I did enjoy this book and I would certainly recommend it. Any disappointment I might have felt results simply from the fact that Pelecanos has set the bar so high that I'm in the habit of expecting him to hit a home run every time he comes up to bat. This is a solid triple, which certainly isn't all that bad.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Darrell Reimer

    I’m skeptical whenever a critic claims a genre writer “gets better with every book.” Most writers I’ve followed (including, perhaps especially, the high-falutin’ types) work steadily until they find their groove. Once established, they return to the groove and work it until it becomes a rut. George Pelecanos came on the crime fiction scene just over 15 years ago, and immediately proved himself as someone worth reading. And, dammit, he gets better with every book. He definitely has his groove, bu I’m skeptical whenever a critic claims a genre writer “gets better with every book.” Most writers I’ve followed (including, perhaps especially, the high-falutin’ types) work steadily until they find their groove. Once established, they return to the groove and work it until it becomes a rut. George Pelecanos came on the crime fiction scene just over 15 years ago, and immediately proved himself as someone worth reading. And, dammit, he gets better with every book. He definitely has his groove, but it is gaining depth and breadth. Some of the pleasures I take from Pelecanos’ books: 1)It’s A Working Man’s World. Pelecanos’ perspective isn’t just resolutely masculine, it’s resolutely blue-collar — involving guys who have learned how to do a job they can take pride in, whether it’s run a diner, work a chop-shop or install flooring. Even when he introduces a minor character, he takes pains to accurately portray the work they do. This approach is something of a revelation, and certainly a welcome change from the artists, free-spirits and flakes who populate other books. 2)Attribution. GP has cited movies as his chief source of narrative inspiration, but his books are filled with other tip-offs. The early books were often written with an accompanying soundtrack (one novel even came with a CD). Characters carry paperback copies of books with them, standing in as the author’s list of recommended reading, which is worth following up. Pelecanos hopes to join a particular company of authors who, in turn, have provided company and encouragement for a very particular audience (see above). 3)Literary Self-Improvement. GP’s template gets wider with every book. In The Way Home Pelecanos spends the first 100 pages getting into the head of a self-destructive, self-centered late-adolescent punk who, through circumstance, very slowly begins to get a clue — tiresome reading in the hands of a lesser, more self-infatuated novelist, but I couldn’t put it down. Mortal peril is eventually thrown into the mix (something else I always appreciate about GP’s books) but the larger question is will this kid make it to the end of the book and become a man? This is one of those books I immediately donate to the public library, so that readers in my town get the chance to discover it for themselves.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    Just a note: There's a spoiler in the final third of this review, but it shouldn't matter to you because it is an annoying spoiler and part of the reason you shouldn't read The Way Home. ON WITH THE REVIEW!! I expected more from one of the writers of The Wire. I guess this is unfair to George Pelecanos. I mean it's not his fault that the other fiction writers associated with The Best Show Ever Aired are all gods of the crime-fiction realm. Not everyone can be Dennis Lehane, Richard Price, or even Just a note: There's a spoiler in the final third of this review, but it shouldn't matter to you because it is an annoying spoiler and part of the reason you shouldn't read The Way Home. ON WITH THE REVIEW!! I expected more from one of the writers of The Wire. I guess this is unfair to George Pelecanos. I mean it's not his fault that the other fiction writers associated with The Best Show Ever Aired are all gods of the crime-fiction realm. Not everyone can be Dennis Lehane, Richard Price, or even David Simon, who wrote one of the best nonficiton cop books ever. Not everyone can be great. But not everyone has to be George Pelecanos, either. It's not that The Way Home is terrible in every regard. In some ways, it is PERFECTLY...adequate. The plot, about a group of juvie offenders who get released and rehabilitated (to varying degrees) and then later accidentally get caught up in some Bad Things, is ok if as unoriginal as an episode of Two and a Half Men. But still, credit GP for attempting something about more than action-action-action. It's about friendship and loyalty, family and love, right and wrong. It's about a parent's decisions. It's also about some lazy-ass writing. Pelecanos DESPERATELY wants to set a mood and tone akin to those set by Price and Lehane. You can smell it. He wants to say Big Things. But he just can't do it. He graduated at the top of the class in the "Tell, Don't Show School," and the laziness (or just clumsiness)he learned there single-handedly destroys anything good that does manage to shine through. Here are two sentences, totally without context, that SHOW what I'm talking about: "Chris called Ali and had a brief conversation." Oh, DID he now? I wonder what was said in that conversation? Was it important? Were there knock-knock jokes? IF ONLY there was some way to show people what could have possibly been said! Some sort of...marks or something that could signify that, hey, people are talking here! This isn't the narrator's words! Seriously. Inexcusable and just fucking annoying. Example deux: "Renee became hysterical upon learning the news of Ben's violent death." This sentence comes during a pivotal moment after a major character gets waxed. The main character has gone to break the bad news to the new corpse's girlfriend. These are MAJOR players in this book. And that's all we get. She 'became hysterical.' Well. It's good to know that she reacted to the news! I'll bet Jackie O 'became hysterical' one day in 1963 as well! I mean, really? That's all you got? Did she break down and cry? Violate her pet bunny with a plunger handle? Or simply drink some tea that was, quite frankly, too hot? What kind of 'hysteria' we talking here? I'll admit that I stopped reading pretty much after this sentence. I skimmed the rest, just because I did have some time invested. And even though I don't know the details of the last 100 pages or so, there is a random paragraph on the final page that is so...out of place and stupid that it makes me want to go back through all 5 seasons of The Wire to see if there are any obvious parts ruined by this hack.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Larry Bassett

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. According to the list in the front of the book, this is Pelecanos' 16 book. I have read quite a few of them and come back for more every time I remember to look if he has a new book. I read slowly and my recent trend is to read non-fiction books which automatically slows me down even more. I have just begun reading some novels again and am enjoying the fact that I can read some shorter novels in just a few day. ...and they lived happily ever after. Pelecanos' take is: "If storytellers told it tru According to the list in the front of the book, this is Pelecanos' 16 book. I have read quite a few of them and come back for more every time I remember to look if he has a new book. I read slowly and my recent trend is to read non-fiction books which automatically slows me down even more. I have just begun reading some novels again and am enjoying the fact that I can read some shorter novels in just a few day. ...and they lived happily ever after. Pelecanos' take is: "If storytellers told it true, all stories would end in death." On the other hand, he might say that Life Goes On. Pelecanos does seem to have a formula in many of his books that I have read. There is the initial background story, time passes (10 years will do), and the experience from the background story comes back on some way or another. And it is usually all men who play the major roles. Women are wives or mothers or waitresses or girlfriends and most of them are pretty good looking as Pelecano often points out. And often sex objects. In this book a homicide detective shows up a woman! And it seems like maybe a woman will have a significant. But "She was a slow, deliberate mover anyway, what with the extra weight she was carrying these days in her hips, belly, and behind." I guess she is not good looking but at least she is a mother and it turns out to only appear a couple more times briefly so is not a significant character. The code of not being a rat (or a stool pigeon as Pete Seeger might say) is held to pretty firmly here. But it does seem like it does lead to bad consequences. At the end Chris does break the code and call the police in a scene that suggests that he has finally come around to the right way. If you ever have taken a writing class, writing a descriptive paragraph is always one of the assignment. George Pelecanos would get an A+ in being descriptive. It is one of his trademarks and I think it is kind of fun although I do not always know the referenced product. GP is a name brand kind of guy. No generics for him. "Lawrence wore a LRG T-shirt with a matching hat, and Nikes edged in red to pick up the red off the shirt." Pelecanos displays his thoughts about child rearing clearly noting early and lasting damage from environment and primary care providers. Locking kids up in juvenile detention is not a good solution. "I wasn't so bad when I went in. But they cured me of any goodness I had by the time I came out." Plenty of places for characters to fall prey to their past or escape to a better future. "Time for you to make your move or you ain't never gonna get out," one of the characters says to his young nephew. These kind of messages are throughout the book but I am not sure I would call Pelecanos' book a change agent. What would people who disagreed with message think of his books? Would they read it start with and would they finish it? And my biggest inability to suspend disbelief is (I guess some think this is the spoiler) not taking the $50,000. Now come on! There are many things you could do if you found a large stray bunch of money. But putting it back doesn't seem to me to be high on the list of possibilities. Sorry, George. ADDED LATER I would call this a suspense or mystery book and I did feel the surprise (for me) ending fit the book. I was surprised about how much emotion I felt in the last 50 or so pages. I am not quite sure if that was coming from me or from the book. (Sometimes I enjoy being jerked around by a book. As a guy, feeling emotions is a good thing and good practice.) I may have to read it again to see if I can figure that out. In the meantime, I would be interested to hear if others found this book to be emotional, especially at the end.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I was led to buy this book by the little tag above the author's name, telling me it was 'by one of the award winning writers of The Wire'. Sadly, The Way Home did not live up to the standard this suggests. The Wire was compelling and essential viewing, peopled by characters that all felt real to me. The Way Home was pedestrian storytelling peopled by characters that could have been interesting if given a chance, only for Pelecanos to decide not to show any growth or change but simply tell us abo I was led to buy this book by the little tag above the author's name, telling me it was 'by one of the award winning writers of The Wire'. Sadly, The Way Home did not live up to the standard this suggests. The Wire was compelling and essential viewing, peopled by characters that all felt real to me. The Way Home was pedestrian storytelling peopled by characters that could have been interesting if given a chance, only for Pelecanos to decide not to show any growth or change but simply tell us about it instead, usually in one short line. The story of Chris Flynn, from attitude-filled teenage criminal to straightened-out adult, 'struggling' with temptation when coming across a bag filled with money and apparently led into 'a deadly game of cat and mouse', the dispassionate writing style at first seemed to fit this particular type of book rather well. However, as the book progressed I found that instead it felt like I was being read to in the most boringly monotone voice I could imagine, which only highlighted how little I cared about what was happening. This, combined with the 'tell, don't show' mode of writing employed, served to remove all dramatic tension and left me scratching my head a little about the 'struggle' Chris apparently went through (which was dealt with in a line) and the 'deadly game of cat and mouse' which only really came up in the last stretch of the story and barely involved Chris after all, climaxing without him. As this was so far below the standard I expected when picking it up, I can only assume that The Way Home is not one of the best works from George Pelecanos. However, I won't be bothering to pick up any more to find out. **Also posted at Randomly Reading and Ranting**

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kemper

    Pelecanos adds his twist to a standard crime story: people find a large sum of money and trouble follows. As always with Pelecanos, the crime is far less important than the characters. Most of this one hinges on a father-son relationship with son Chris trying to live down his past as a teen-age criminal and his father's disappointment that he hasn't grown into a more successful man. The first part of the book is about young Chris committing a minor crime spree just because of teen-age stupidity a Pelecanos adds his twist to a standard crime story: people find a large sum of money and trouble follows. As always with Pelecanos, the crime is far less important than the characters. Most of this one hinges on a father-son relationship with son Chris trying to live down his past as a teen-age criminal and his father's disappointment that he hasn't grown into a more successful man. The first part of the book is about young Chris committing a minor crime spree just because of teen-age stupidity and winding up a in jail. You can't help but compare this section to the fourth season of The Wire which Pelecanos wrote for. The story of troubled kids who grow into men just trying to find a foothold in the world is another major part of the book. Adult Chris and his friend Ben from jail end up working for his father's carpet installation business. When they find a bag of money during an installation, Chris wants nothing to do with it and insists they leave the money where they found it. Despite doing exactly that, another inmate from their past and the money's owners soon bring trouble to Chris and his family. I always hesitate to call Pellecanos's books 'crime novels' because they're really character studies. Even though this one concerns a bag of money and criminals trying to track it down, the heart of the book is really about Chris and his friends trying to outgrow their pasts.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    Although Thomas Flynn never attended college, he became a successful entrepreneur. All he wants for his son, Chris, is to see him go to college and succeed in life. But Chris has no interest in school and drifts toward a life of drugs and petty crime. Placed in a juvenile facility until 18, Chris takes a job with his father once he graduates high school. Although Flynn is disappointed in Chris and Chris resents his father’s plans for his future, the two learn to work together without conflict. T Although Thomas Flynn never attended college, he became a successful entrepreneur. All he wants for his son, Chris, is to see him go to college and succeed in life. But Chris has no interest in school and drifts toward a life of drugs and petty crime. Placed in a juvenile facility until 18, Chris takes a job with his father once he graduates high school. Although Flynn is disappointed in Chris and Chris resents his father’s plans for his future, the two learn to work together without conflict. Thomas begins to hope that Chris is maturing and leaving behind the past, but when one of Chris’s friends is murdered and Chris begins acting suspiciously, Flynn fears his son has slipped back into the past, to a place he can never leave behind. The predominant theme is a character study of two men in a contentious relationship, one not uncommon to many fathers and sons. Through characters and plot, Pelecanos relays his own message concerning juvenile detention centers and rehabilitating young criminals. He adds suspense to the story with the murder of Chris’s friend and nicely develops a back story reflecting on Chris’s time in the juvenile facility, touching upon the injustices Chris endures in that center as well as his relationship with the other young boys facing the same fate.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

    PROTAGONIST: The Flynn family SERIES: Standalone RATING: 3.25 Thomas Flynn is a successful business owner, whose family life is unfortunately a difficult one. His son, Christopher, is one of those kids who seems destined to end up in trouble. Ultimately, he is sentenced to juvenile prison; and the relationship with his father is strained to the breaking point. Chris experiences an epiphany while serving his time and is ready to change his ways upon his release at the age of 26. But Thomas is not fo PROTAGONIST: The Flynn family SERIES: Standalone RATING: 3.25 Thomas Flynn is a successful business owner, whose family life is unfortunately a difficult one. His son, Christopher, is one of those kids who seems destined to end up in trouble. Ultimately, he is sentenced to juvenile prison; and the relationship with his father is strained to the breaking point. Chris experiences an epiphany while serving his time and is ready to change his ways upon his release at the age of 26. But Thomas is not forgiving at all and continues to expect the worst from his child. Nonetheless, he gives Chris a job as a carpet installer. He's not very skilled, but he does work hard. Chris is partnered with another former convict, Ben Braswell. While removing the carpet during a job, they uncover a cache filled with money. Chris immediately rejects the idea of taking the money; instead, they continue with the installation. But Ben can't stop thinking about what that money could mean for his life; while drunk, he tells another friend about the discovery which results in the money being stolen. From that point on, it's one dangerous situation after another, as the felons who put the money there try to get it back. Sometimes even great authors turn out a book that is less than stellar. That is definitely the case for THE WAY HOME. Normally, Pelecanos is a master of plotting. However, the plot for this book is completely clichéd. We have the rebellious son who goes wrong and disappoints his parents. He has an awakening and turns his life around. However, his father is not able to accept the fact that his son has changed. You can pretty much figure out where it goes from there. There's the strong and steady girlfriend whose love is placed in jeopardy. And then there's the whole thread about the stolen money that plays out just as expected. On the positive side, Pelecanos realistically depicts the challenges facing those who have been released from incarceration, the difficulties that they face in being reintegrated into society and the challenges of living the straight life. Overall, though, the book was a disappointment. There was the possibility of a strong story of redemption, but it was never realized.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Margot

    Tom and Amanda Flynn believed that if you raised a child in a comfortable home, good schools, church and with two loving parents, it should be what a child needs to be successful in life. It didn't seem to work for their son, Christopher. By the time Chris was sixteen his grades were down, he stopped playing sports, started shoplifting, fighting, smoking marijuana and was headed for jail. A stretch in a juvenile jail worked for Chris. He grew up and learned what he had to do to stay out of jail. Tom and Amanda Flynn believed that if you raised a child in a comfortable home, good schools, church and with two loving parents, it should be what a child needs to be successful in life. It didn't seem to work for their son, Christopher. By the time Chris was sixteen his grades were down, he stopped playing sports, started shoplifting, fighting, smoking marijuana and was headed for jail. A stretch in a juvenile jail worked for Chris. He grew up and learned what he had to do to stay out of jail. He got his own apartment and a job working for his father's flooring business as a carpet installer. By his mid-twenties he was doing okay. Then one day he and his friend discovered a bag with a lot of money hidden under a floor in a house where they were laying carpet. They put the money back, laid down the carpet, and walked away. Unfortunately, Chris' friend tells someone. Unfortunately, the two crooks who originally stashed the money come looking for it. And then the story continues. I definitely want to read more of Pelecanos' books. I know this is classified as Crime Fiction but it didn't really feel that way. There was a little violence and some bad language but it fit the story. The characters were well developed. They each had flaws but that's what made them feel human.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    Pelecanos, George. THE WAY HOME. (2009). **. This is a well-written book in a pedestrian kind of way, but it is not what I expected from a hard-boiled thriller writer of Pelecanos’ talent. It is more of a novel of crime and punishment and redemption of a young boy who is placed in a juvenile detention center and is expected to rehabilitate himself. It is a screed against the inhuman aspects of such detention centers and a call to arms to change the system. Rather than being issued as a novel for Pelecanos, George. THE WAY HOME. (2009). **. This is a well-written book in a pedestrian kind of way, but it is not what I expected from a hard-boiled thriller writer of Pelecanos’ talent. It is more of a novel of crime and punishment and redemption of a young boy who is placed in a juvenile detention center and is expected to rehabilitate himself. It is a screed against the inhuman aspects of such detention centers and a call to arms to change the system. Rather than being issued as a novel for the mainstream reading public, the book should have been serialized in “My Weekly Reader,” if that publication still exists. It is written on that level and best addressed to that audience. I tried to empathize with the character, Chris, but couldn’t. His amoral behavior that led to his incarceration was the inevitable cause. The fact that he had an ennabling mother and a disgusted father is a sterotypical plot device that lends no additional meaning to the story. The book is full of cardboard characters that fall over when you try to stand them up. From now on, I’ll get the author’s books from the library.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Toby

    I'm really torn on my opinion of this one. My main complaint is quite similar to my issue with Pelecanos' previous novel The Turnaround, in that it was a bit too transparent in trumpeting the importance of Honor and Responsibility and Fathers Having A Catch With Their Sons. Which is a shame, because the story and the characters are compelling enough to convey such points. The author's experience as a writer for The Wire shows through, as he maintains his ability to tell layered crime stories suf I'm really torn on my opinion of this one. My main complaint is quite similar to my issue with Pelecanos' previous novel The Turnaround, in that it was a bit too transparent in trumpeting the importance of Honor and Responsibility and Fathers Having A Catch With Their Sons. Which is a shame, because the story and the characters are compelling enough to convey such points. The author's experience as a writer for The Wire shows through, as he maintains his ability to tell layered crime stories suffused with an all-encompassing sense of geography. Which is why it's so frustrating to hear him telegraph the Meaning of his story with increasingly ham-fisted bits of narration. C'mon, George. If you're going to write a book about learning to trust people, you should be able to do the same thing with your readers.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elaine Stock

    If you're affronted by coarse language and violence, don't read this book. If you're looking for a good story, plunge in! The author made me care about the characters enough to see them through to the end. And that last line--wow. Made my eyes tear up.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Meh. The story was a bit weak, but great characters. The writing was pretty good but the slang dialogue was cringe-worthy. It was missing that “X-factor” for me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amy Meyer

    Title: The Way Home Author: George Pelecanos ISBN: 978-0-316-15649-3 Pages: 323 Release Date: May 2009 Publisher: Little Brown and Company Genre: Literary Crime Fiction Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Summary: Hidden beneath the floorboards in a house he's remodeling, Christopher Flynn discovers something very tempting-and troubling. Summoning every bit of maturity and every lesson he's learned the hard way, Chris leaves what he found where he found it and tells his job partner to forget it, too. Knowing trouble w Title: The Way Home Author: George Pelecanos ISBN: 978-0-316-15649-3 Pages: 323 Release Date: May 2009 Publisher: Little Brown and Company Genre: Literary Crime Fiction Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Summary: Hidden beneath the floorboards in a house he's remodeling, Christopher Flynn discovers something very tempting-and troubling. Summoning every bit of maturity and every lesson he's learned the hard way, Chris leaves what he found where he found it and tells his job partner to forget it, too. Knowing trouble when he sees it-and walking the other way-is a habit Chris is still learning. Chris's father, Thomas Flynn, runs the family business where Chris and his friends have found work. Thomas is just getting comfortable with the idea that his son is grown, working, and on the right path at last. Then one day Chris doesn't show up for work-and his father knows deep in his bones that danger has found him. Although he wishes it weren't so, he also knows that no parent can protect a child from all the world's evils. Sometimes you have to let them find their own way home. My brief review: This is not a thriller or a traditional whodunnit but a story about a boy growing up and trying to find his way in the world and his place in his family. There's is a crime but it is more of a vehicle to illustrate several points including that of the role and result of punishment as doled out by the juvenile justice system. Arguably for some it is a deterrence, for others it is not. At the heart of this novel is a father son relationship. It's a fractured relationship that was once strong and invigorating to father and son. Thomas Flynn and Chris love each other but have lost respect for each other as Chris grew into a teenager and are no longer able to communicate. Growing up is a difficult time in a young person's life. There are a myriad of pressures to contend with from parents, friends, school and society. Chris rebels against the rules, authority and his father's expectations. Poor judgment and stupid decisions made under the guise of being cool eventually land him in Pine Ridge Juvenile Detention. It might end up being one of the best things that happens to Chris. But not his dad. Thomas Flynn is too concerned with what the neighbors will think and too blind-sided by his determination to make Chris into the son he thinks Chris should be. But even after Chris sheds his bad boy image, starts working for his dad and maintains a low profile, Thomas isn't happy. Chris doesn't understand his father and finds it easier to stay away from his family despite wanting to be able to talk to his father. But he's also thinking about starting his own family. The values and beliefs both Thomas and Chris hold tightly will be tested. They will be forced to reconsider their views of life, each other and human nature. Chris is still young and may be able to build a life he can be proud of that includes his mother and father. Thomas needs to reconcile the things that desperately upset him and come to terms with life before it is too late. And father and son will soon realize how important are the small and large decisions you make for yourselves, your family and your friends. George Pelecanos has given us a captivating story about life and relationships and how the decisions we make in our own lives will effect the lives of those we love.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kathy (Bermudaonion)

    Shortly after they were married, Thomas and Amanda Flynn had a baby girl, Kate, who lived for two days. After a few more years of trying, they finally had a boy, Chris, who never could quite live up to the image of Kate that Thomas had in his mind. Thomas would always think about what Kate would be doing, had she lived. Chris quit trying to please his father and got into trouble for stealing, using and selling drugs, fighting and reckless driving. He was finally sentenced to Juvenile Detention w Shortly after they were married, Thomas and Amanda Flynn had a baby girl, Kate, who lived for two days. After a few more years of trying, they finally had a boy, Chris, who never could quite live up to the image of Kate that Thomas had in his mind. Thomas would always think about what Kate would be doing, had she lived. Chris quit trying to please his father and got into trouble for stealing, using and selling drugs, fighting and reckless driving. He was finally sentenced to Juvenile Detention where he remarkably made some good friends and decided to turn his life around. Upon his release, Chris and one of his friends from Juvenile Detention, Ben, went to work as carpet installers for Thomas’s flooring business. Things were going along great until Ben and Chris discovered some cash hidden under the floor of one of the houses they were working in. Chris and Ben decided to leave the money alone, but Ben couldn’t resist telling someone else about it. The thugs who hid the money came back for it and when they didn’t find it, they assumed Ben and Chris had it. When they come after Chris and Ben for the money, chaos ensues. The Way Home by George Pelecanos drew me in from the first paragraph. It is a fast-paced, action packed thriller. The characters are flawed, but so real - there were times I wanted to choke both Chris and Thomas. The story goes much deeper than that - for me, it was the story of a family and how the son lived up to his father’s expectations of him. It also made me think about the way our society treats it’s offenders and wonder if there isn’t a better solution. I thought this book was great! There are some mild sexual references and violence, but they are suitable for the storyline.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    As a teenager Chris Flynn got into a lot of trouble. So much so he gets himself locked up in a juvenile detention facility. After he gets out he tries to turn his life around and go to work for his father, bringing his new jailhouse friends and enemies with him. On a job Chris and one of his new friends discover some money hidden in a floor which leads him down a path much worse than the one he used to be on. The Way Home is a story about a father and sons relationship. The ups and downs and how As a teenager Chris Flynn got into a lot of trouble. So much so he gets himself locked up in a juvenile detention facility. After he gets out he tries to turn his life around and go to work for his father, bringing his new jailhouse friends and enemies with him. On a job Chris and one of his new friends discover some money hidden in a floor which leads him down a path much worse than the one he used to be on. The Way Home is a story about a father and sons relationship. The ups and downs and how they bump heads here and there. It's about decisions right and wrong and their consequences. But for one of the characters from the jail it's also a tragic noir story. This is the best Pelecanos I've read so far. It's so down to earth and reflects problems a lot of youth go through these days, even the well off white kids from good backgrounds. I saw a little of myself and friends and family members in Chris Flynn. Issues with drugs and getting into trouble, and just being a young man finding his way with a hard head and tough shell. It shows that it's not just inner city kids that have these problems, but white kids that grew up in good family's too. I really like George Pelecanos's writing but I always felt like he tells a little too much instead of letting the characters action and dialogue speak for themselves. Sometimes his slang seems a little off too, unless I'm just out of the loop. He does a great job bringing these characters to life though and even has you rooting for the would-be bad guy by the end of it. There are some genuinely sad and brutal scenes in this novel. If your looking to start reading the authors work The Way Home would be a good place to start.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    The Way Home is good, concise story about the changing relationship of a father and son during the son's sudden descent into juvenile delinquency and mischief. When Chris Flynn suddenly jumps the tracks from becoming a promising college bound young man to a rebellious, drug-dabbling underachiever, his father Thomas is beside himself with guilt and frustration. Chris' road ultimately leads to a stint in juvenile detention, where he forges a bond with several other young men on similar paths. Upon The Way Home is good, concise story about the changing relationship of a father and son during the son's sudden descent into juvenile delinquency and mischief. When Chris Flynn suddenly jumps the tracks from becoming a promising college bound young man to a rebellious, drug-dabbling underachiever, his father Thomas is beside himself with guilt and frustration. Chris' road ultimately leads to a stint in juvenile detention, where he forges a bond with several other young men on similar paths. Upon his release, his father gives Chris and cellmate Ben a job installing carpeting for his business. When Chris and Ben uncover a cache of money at one of their installations, they are forced to make some tough decisions, trying to avoid the vortex of trouble they both know this cash will draw them into. The author does a great job of developing the characters in this story, and manages to pack quite a story into a scant 320 pages. The setting in DC and Maryland is vividly described, and there is some lightly veiled commentary on the nature of juvenile rehabilitation and incarceration told through a few of the characters. I guess my only gripe is that the major steps in the transformation of the father-son relationship are left to the reader's imagination between the two major sections of the book. Based on this, I'll check out a few other novels by Pelecanos.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    The power of George Pelecanos is in his deeply realistic characterizations of his protagonists and his characters' dialogue, which is some of the best I have ever come across in any genre. You feel for them, feel like you know them, and love and hate them. In this respect, this book is vintage Pelecanos. That said, there is a Pelecanos formula for plot that he rarely deviates from, which is there are some good guys, there are some bad guys, and then the good guys debate whether to go above the l The power of George Pelecanos is in his deeply realistic characterizations of his protagonists and his characters' dialogue, which is some of the best I have ever come across in any genre. You feel for them, feel like you know them, and love and hate them. In this respect, this book is vintage Pelecanos. That said, there is a Pelecanos formula for plot that he rarely deviates from, which is there are some good guys, there are some bad guys, and then the good guys debate whether to go above the law or work within the law to take care of the bad guys. That is it. Really. This book is pitched as a father/son story, which in some respects it is (the passages at the end of part one where Flynn recalls riding a bike with his baby son on the back is poignant and beautiful), though this characterization seems tangential at times. The story essentially fits into the plot structure above. I so, so want Pelecanos to go deeper and write something with as much grit without the inevitable gun fight at the end. He is so close to doing that and I selfishly want him to write that book so I can read it!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lars Guthrie

    In his past three novels, 'The Night Gardener,' 'The Turnaround,' and now 'The Way Home,' Pelecanos has gone from being a great crime novelist to a great novelist without losing any of the attributes that made him such a master of crime fiction: an ear for authentic dialogue, a feel for the details of life in the nation's capital and its suburbs, a connoiseur's appreciation of pop music and culture, and a gift for portraying splendid villains who are unrepentingly evil. The deliciously bad-to-th In his past three novels, 'The Night Gardener,' 'The Turnaround,' and now 'The Way Home,' Pelecanos has gone from being a great crime novelist to a great novelist without losing any of the attributes that made him such a master of crime fiction: an ear for authentic dialogue, a feel for the details of life in the nation's capital and its suburbs, a connoiseur's appreciation of pop music and culture, and a gift for portraying splendid villains who are unrepentingly evil. The deliciously bad-to-the-bone bad guys in 'The Way Home' are Sonny Wade and Wayne Minors. The hero is Christopher Flynn, who overcomes his own bad-to-the-bone adolescence to become a responsible, if flawed, adult, no thanks to our awful juvenile corrections system. Besides writing a rich tale of redemption, Pelecanos gives us a strong argument for major reform in the way our system of justice deals with offenders who have not come of age. Highly recommended.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    I have read everything George Pelecanos has written. I'm a huge fan. And while it's always exciting to see authors branch out a bit instead of writing the same old thing every time, I'll admit that this book and his last one are making me a bit nostalgic for his previous ones. Yes, he's an awesome writer. And this book certainly does prove once again he's a master at telling a story and creating a pervading feeling of forboding. But in the end, this book left me fairly cold. What I struggled wit I have read everything George Pelecanos has written. I'm a huge fan. And while it's always exciting to see authors branch out a bit instead of writing the same old thing every time, I'll admit that this book and his last one are making me a bit nostalgic for his previous ones. Yes, he's an awesome writer. And this book certainly does prove once again he's a master at telling a story and creating a pervading feeling of forboding. But in the end, this book left me fairly cold. What I struggled with the most here are two things: the main character, Chris Flynn, is fairly unsympathetic for almost the entire book, and you can see how the book will resolve itself as early as halfway in. Why should you care about a character who doesn't much care about the direction his own life is taking? I hope that George Pelecanos heads back into more familiar territory for his next book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Vannessa Anderson

    I was impressed with The Way Home. I was impressed how George Pelecanos plunged into the challenge of taking on a subject far too often ignored in all communities and that subject is how to save our youth after they’ve served time in a juvenile facility. Pelecanos shows how the prison system fails our children after punishing them, and often punishing them to severely. The system punishes our children then throws them back into the communities that failed them. In The Way Home we follow four you I was impressed with The Way Home. I was impressed how George Pelecanos plunged into the challenge of taking on a subject far too often ignored in all communities and that subject is how to save our youth after they’ve served time in a juvenile facility. Pelecanos shows how the prison system fails our children after punishing them, and often punishing them to severely. The system punishes our children then throws them back into the communities that failed them. In The Way Home we follow four youths and the lives they live and the decisions they make after leaving the juvenile prison system. Pelecanos takes it a step further by telling us how we can help these youth. www.sentencingproject.org. The Way Home is a must read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    I started another book, had to return it to the library, and knocked out The Way Home while waiting for the original book I started to become available again. All that to say, this is a fast read. And, while this does not have the plot richness and depth of The Night Gardener, my favorite Pelecanos novel, it still had the elements that I love from this author: his incredible ear for dialogue, his generous use of Washington locations for the action--and not "K-Street" Washington, but the real Was I started another book, had to return it to the library, and knocked out The Way Home while waiting for the original book I started to become available again. All that to say, this is a fast read. And, while this does not have the plot richness and depth of The Night Gardener, my favorite Pelecanos novel, it still had the elements that I love from this author: his incredible ear for dialogue, his generous use of Washington locations for the action--and not "K-Street" Washington, but the real Washington where people live and love and die--and characters you can root for. This book suffered for being too much of a "message" novel, but I still dug it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Miriam

    Am constantly amazed by the depth of Pelecanos' writing. His characters are so real, their dilemmas so relatable. Anyone who has had a child who has ever gotten in any trouble will relate to the parents in this novel. And any person who has ever given their parents any grief will relate as well. SO, anyone who is a child of parents or a parent of a child should read this. (That means everyone, right?)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Steve In Ludlow

    I've read all of the Pelecanos novels, starting with Drama City and then getting back into the various cycles. This was disappointing. I can see that he is trying to broaden out his scope but I don't think this one rings true. For new readers I suggest you start with his earlier novels which build into a rich fabric of characters that weave in and out of plots. You will experience better plots, great characters and fantastic dialogue. Leave the Way Home till later.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jim Kettner

    After a couple of doses of Winslow, I wanted to jump back to Pelecanos to scratch that itch that my new favorite crime author has been soothing the past few months. Now, let me be real. This is no Sweet Forever. It's no Drama City. It doesn't have that much weight or heart. It also isn't as fun or compelling as Pelecanos' Spero Lucas books...which is the kind of more procedural crime series that Boone Daniels WISHES he could be. No, this is more in the model of Drama City, social justice crime f After a couple of doses of Winslow, I wanted to jump back to Pelecanos to scratch that itch that my new favorite crime author has been soothing the past few months. Now, let me be real. This is no Sweet Forever. It's no Drama City. It doesn't have that much weight or heart. It also isn't as fun or compelling as Pelecanos' Spero Lucas books...which is the kind of more procedural crime series that Boone Daniels WISHES he could be. No, this is more in the model of Drama City, social justice crime fiction. But this was the first time in which the politics of the piece felt after school special-ish. Pelecanos spells out just a little bit too much for the reader in this one. That much being said, it's still much better than other reads in the genre that I've tackled lately. Solid characters. A moral dilemma placed in front of an everyday person, asking the reader what they would do in that situation. A slight exploration of white privilege which is something that I'd love more Pelecanos' books to get into...but then there's a father-son drama that effectively pulls at those heart strings, and the question Pelecanos asks so often...how do you be good, and in particular a good MAN, in an awful compromised world? Why be good? What are the consequences? Always questions I love to read being explored in fiction, and I'm always down, even if this one was a bit more on the Hallmark card side of things.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chris Fannon

    THE WAY HOME isn't Pelecanos' best, but I enjoyed it much more than its objective quality. That comes off as more of a backhanded compliment than I intended. The story centers around a father and delinquent son, and around the circle of friends the son makes in juvenile detention and keeps in contact with through adulthood. The prose really moves, but the story could use a little more room to breathe and explore its characters and themes, all of which are very strong. The book is billed as a crim THE WAY HOME isn't Pelecanos' best, but I enjoyed it much more than its objective quality. That comes off as more of a backhanded compliment than I intended. The story centers around a father and delinquent son, and around the circle of friends the son makes in juvenile detention and keeps in contact with through adulthood. The prose really moves, but the story could use a little more room to breathe and explore its characters and themes, all of which are very strong. The book is billed as a crime thriller and revenge/redemption story, but that suggests a certain structure that isn't there, to the novel's credit. The core relationships are the main focus and the book is much less pulpy than the back cover summary suggests. This would be a strong recommendation, except for one minor spoiler. Most of the black characters get a pretty raw deal largely so that the white characters can have a happy ending. From an individual character standpoint, I see why the book ends as it does, but the optics are not great. The epilogue makes a half-hearted attempt to put a sad note into their happy ending, but it rings hollow. Still, great characters, strong themes, easy to read and hard to put down.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Zainab

    *First George Pelecanos book* I knew that George Pelecanos was one of the writers on the "The Wire". However, big TV shows like "The Wire" usually have multiple writers so I was not putting a lot of pressure on George Pelecanos to dazzle me, but I was expecting to have a good read. I was disappointed. The book has similar themes as "The Wire" and this is one of the reasons why I am bringing that show up. So, the death of the American Dream, the parents struggling to bring up their children, broken *First George Pelecanos book* I knew that George Pelecanos was one of the writers on the "The Wire". However, big TV shows like "The Wire" usually have multiple writers so I was not putting a lot of pressure on George Pelecanos to dazzle me, but I was expecting to have a good read. I was disappointed. The book has similar themes as "The Wire" and this is one of the reasons why I am bringing that show up. So, the death of the American Dream, the parents struggling to bring up their children, broken homes, drug-addicts, racial tension and more are part of it. Chances are that if you liked the show, you would manage to finish this book, even if you did not like the story much. The first act of the book is the strongest and the most gripping one. I read first 50 pages in one go. The second act is good. It is the third act that ruins the book. It becomes cliched super fast. By the time, I reached the ending, I was not that impressed. Do I recommend it? Not really. It is a good afternoon read when you just want to read something that does not put a lot of strain on your mind with names and dates; but otherwise, I am sure there are better crime related books out there. You can skip it and I don't think you'd be missing much.

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