Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Review: Here, Home, Hope

By Melissa Amster
If the soothing cover of Kaira Rouda's debut novel, "Here, Home, Hope" didn't interest me, then the concept definitely would have. Luckily, both did the trick and I was swept away into Kelly Johnson's life from page one.

Kelly is the wife of a successful attorney and a stay-at-home mother to two adolescent boys who are away at camp for the summer. While getting her teeth fixed, she has an epiphany (which feels more like a mid-life crisis to her), which is the result of a breast cancer scare. Her plan is to find ways to make changes in her own life and remind herself of these changes through post-it notes. In doing so, she changes the lives of her friends and even goes about starting her own business. Along the way, she experiences happy moments and gets involved in the sad situations of those she cares about most (outside of her own family).

I loved this book so much. It was like talking to a close friend and being privy to the intimate details of someone else's life, even though they were completely fictional. Kaira Rouda makes Kelly seem so real that I kept checking to make sure this wasn't some autobiographical tale. I love her use of description of both people and places. It all adds to the realistic feel of this story. The dialogue was natural, as well. I had mentioned in another book review about how I love stories about female entrepreneurs. This story definitely fulfilled that thrill of mine. I even love the job that Kelly makes her own. It sounds like so much fun!

I don’t really have anything to critique about this story, other than perhaps it was too perfect. No fault in that, right? I am a hopeful woman who enjoys a nice and happy ending to a story. I’m sure there are many others like me out there. However, there are also women don’t feel a happy ending in any book (or movie) is realistic. Still, the book dealt with realistic issues, the biggest being anorexia, but I won’t spoil any of the other topics. It even allowed me to put something that had nothing to do with me, but had been bothering me personally, into perspective.

Through Kelly, Ms. Rouda allows us to realize that just being a wife and a mother is not the "end all, be all" to life. Sure, it's wonderful if you have it. However, she encourages women to be more than just their roles in a family. Kelly is someone women from all walks of life can relate to, even if they've never been married or raised children or if those days are long past them now. She speaks to a woman's need to take care of herself, even while taking care of everyone else in her life (whomever that may be to each woman). She definitely spoke to that side of me that wants something for herself, even while "having it all," so to speak.

I can’t begin to praise “Here, Home, Hope” enough. Every chapter brought about a new surprise and it kept me on my toes the entire time. I honestly wanted to see what would happen to each of the characters, even the ones that didn’t show up on every page. It had a Jane Porter feel to it, as well. The writing style was very similar to hers. It was introspective and conversational. Ms. Rouda didn’t assume anything about where the story would go or the audience when she wrote it. She just wrote it with a lot of feeling and a down to earth perspective on life. It was inspiring and thought-provoking. Reading about all Kelly did to enhance her life made me want to do the same (not the things she did for herself, necessarily). I just hope I can start (and stick with) a plan! I highly recommend this novel to all women of all ages. Men might like it too, but there's definitely something about it that is a real draw to women readers. I hope you will be inspired by it in some way, as well.


Kaira Rouda said...


To have you write such glowing words about HERE, HOME, HOPE means the world to me. I cannot explain adequately the feeling I had (and continue to have) after reading your review. Wow! I couldn't be happier!

Thank you, thank you, thank you. That Kelly Johnson's story made you laugh, cry, and keep turning the pages is the best compliment!

Grinning from ear to ear,

The Book Chick said...

Fantastic review, Melissa! I'm glad that you enjoyed it so much. :)