Tuesday, June 30, 2009

THE WAY HOME - George Pelecanos

Christopher Flynn tended to be slightly more than rebellious as a young man. And his rebel-rousing landed him in Pine Ridge juvenile detention facility. His father Tom Flynn simply didn't know how to respond to or deal with his trouble-making son.

After serving his time in the juvenile detention facility, Chris goes to work for his father in Tom's carpet business and does his best to get his life straightened out. Until one day when fate would intervene and tempt Chris to return to his old ways. Would the bonds between a father and his son be enough to overcome the old demons that try to recapture the Flynn family?

Pelecanos does an astonishing job of capturing the world around him. The characters of Chris and Tom are ones most of us can see in people we know personally. And as I read through THE WAY HOME, I found myself nodding and mumbling, "uh hum." There's no sugar-coating or overdramatizing, just an honest glimpse of a less-than-"Leave it to Beaver" family situation. THE WAY HOME shows the growing pains of both father and son as they learn there really isn't such a thing.

George Pelecanos is a master of not only urban crime fiction but also social commentary. In THE WAY HOME he throws the Flynn men under a microscope to examine the fibers that make up a father-son relationship. Is there something in those fibers, or a lack of something in those fibers, that makes some sons take the path of trouble and others the path of success? After all, Tom Flynn was present in his son's life. He had rules and boundaries and expectations.

Pelecanos also throws an institution under that same microscope. The juvenile detention facility, always a controversial issue. THE WAY HOME is in no way preachy about these elements of society, but it does lay them out under the microscope for the reader to examine and ponder. THE WAY HOME doesn't offer up solutions or answers, but it does point out possible weaknesses in the fibers. Weaknesses that we don't often want to admit or look at. We simply want a quick and easy answer. Take care of it and don't make us look at it. THE WAY HOME makes its readers look at it and look closely.

If you're a fan of Pelecanos, you will enjoy THE WAY HOME. If you haven't experienced Pelecanos' work before, THE WAY HOME is a great place to start. You needed worry about background from any of his previous works. If you don't want a book to challenge you, to make you think, look elsewhere. THE WAY HOME is a great crime fiction novel that is also a reflection of the times we are living in. It is my hope that through books like THE WAY HOME, people will look back on them years from now and say, "things were really like that? Wow! We've come a long way."

THE WAY HOME (ISBN: 978-0-316-15649-3) is now available from Little, Brown and Company.


Serena June 30, 2009 at 8:35 AM  

I have not read any of these books yet, but I may just have to between your reviews and all the advertisements I see on the subway

Corey Wilde June 30, 2009 at 1:13 PM  

How do you think his examination of the father-son relationship compares to Crais's themes on that topic, i.e. Cole's missing father, Pike's brutal father, the codependent father in 'The Forgotten Man,' Max Holman in 'Two-Minute Rule,' etc.?

Jen June 30, 2009 at 2:06 PM  

It's a very different kind of father-son relationship from any of RC's, but his examination of it is more upfront. Pelecanos's approach plays a far more prominent role in the plot than Crais's approach. The other thing that really differs is the point I think Pelecanos is trying to make and that is the actions of the father didn't create the son or vice versa. The actions affect the opposite party but they don't CREATE him. Where as Crais really looks a lot more at how the father had a more distinct role in who the son became.

And then again, I could be completely off base. ;)

le0pard13 June 30, 2009 at 6:31 PM  

Both you and Corey make interesting points re: authors and their examinations of father-son relationships. I've not read any George Pelecanos work, but I may have to make arrangements. Thanks for the review, and comments.

Jen June 30, 2009 at 8:40 PM  

Michael, get those kids on the library website and reserve a Pelecanos novel. I think most if not all of his work is available on audio. I haven't listened to any, so I can't comment on the reader(s), but I know the audios exist. Hope you enjoy! :)

Sheila DeChantal June 30, 2009 at 9:48 PM  

I just finished The Night Gardener by this author.

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