Home by Calisa Rhose
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Home is a heart-warming love story set in a small town in Oklahoma during the Vietnam War. The story strikes many chords on the right note, particularly a mood that evokes the feel of the era and the character—good and bad—of small town life. Calisa Rhose employs apt word choices to create an atmosphere that feels realistic and absorbing, from the phrasing of insults hurled at veterans returning stateside to colloquial sayings. The author pays a great deal of attention to details of the era—vehicles, clothing styles, politics, and culture.
Sam Callahan is a doctor returning to his hometown following a traumatic tour of duty in Vietnam. Once a popular teenager, he feels alienated from the people he used to identify with most closely. The descriptions of his PTSD are powerful and disturbing, and contain what feels like the author's comprehensive understanding of the condition. Sam is also a strong man and a highly empathic character that the reader can identify with and cheer on.
Poppy Tippen is Sam's opposite. She grew up as the bastard daughter of a gypsy in a small town that has ostracized her all of her life. Unfair and cruel things are said about her, making her an outsider, and yet she manages to maintain a positive outlook on life. Her zest and strength are admirable traits, and she offers Sam what no one else can—acceptance without judgment. The interaction between the hero and heroine is touching and moving, a sweet romance that brings a smile to the lips.
The plotline surrounding the cursed doll adds an interesting element to the story without ever detracting from the romance, which is front and center. Although short, no words are wasted. Home is a wonderful story about the redemptive power of love. It is a five star read all the way.
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