Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Book Review: The Journey Home by Michael Baron


Joseph, a man in his late thirties, awakens disoriented and uneasy in a place he doesn't recognize. Several people are near him when he opens his eyes, all strangers. All of them seem perfectly friendly, but none of them can explain to him how he got there. They offer him a delicious meal and pleasant conversation in a beautifully decorated room. This would be a very nice experience if not for one thing: Joseph doesn't know where he is and he has no way to contact his wife, who he is sure is worried sick over him. Thanking the people for their hospitality, he leaves to make his way back home. The only problem is that whatever happened to him has stripped him of most of his memories. He knows he needs to get back to his wife, but he doesn't know how to find her. He sets out on a journey to find his home with no sense of where he's going and only the precious, indelible vision of the woman he loves to guide him.

Antoinette is an elderly woman in an assisted living facility. She’s spent the last six years there since her husband died, and most of those years have been happy. She enjoys the company of others in her situation and her son comes to visit often. But in recent months, she’s had a tougher and tougher time leaving her room. Her friends seem different to her and the world seems increasingly confusing. She spends an escalating amount of time on a journey inside her head. There, her body and mind haven’t betrayed her. There, she’s a young newlywed with a husband who dotes on her and an entire life of dreams to live. There, she is truly home.

Warren, Antoinette’s son, is a man in his early forties going through the toughest year of his life. His marriage ended, he lost his job, and in the past few months, his mother has gone from hale to increasingly hazy. Having trouble finding work, he spends more and more time by his mother’s bedside. But her lack of lucidity both frustrates and frightens him. With far too much time on his hands, he decides to try to recreate his memories of home by attempting to cook his mother’s greatest dishes using the rudimentary appliances available in her room. He finds the challenge surprisingly rewarding, especially because the only time he feels his mother is truly with him anymore is when she is eating the meals he prepares for her.

Joseph, Antoinette, and Warren are three people on different searches for home. How they find it, and how they connect with one another at this critical stage in each of their lives, is the foundation for a profound and deeply moving story.


A poignant love story tying three separate characters together in an unimaginable way, The Journey Home will pull readers in from the beginning and captivate them throughout. With endearing and sensitive writing, beautifully crafted characters and stunning plot lines, Baron has created another romantic masterpiece. This book focuses on three characters, two of whom are related and one who is completely separate, and forms a connection with each of them to the reader.

Joseph is the first character introduced, a man who wakes up in a house full of strangers and missing most of his names. Apart from knowing his first name but no last name and having a strong feeling he is married, Joseph is at a complete loss for what to do and where to go. His pain over the distance from his wife is tangible, written in a stunning way to easily make the reader see from his eyes how it feels to know somewhere his wife loves him and misses him with no word on whether he's safe or not. His journey is surprising as he meets a 17 year old boy named Will who openly offers to drive him aimlessly across the country in an effort to find his home. The kinship between these two- adult man and teenager caught between boy and man- is moving and memorable.

Next introduced is Antoinette, a woman suffering the effects of Alzheimer's, compounded by her grievance over the loss of her husband a few years before. This is a woman who was devoted to her husband, entwined in him, and the definition of soul mate. Without him, Antoinette lives in a constant state of pain, missing him and wanting nothing more than to be with him. Her days are spent, by preference, locked away in her memories, reliving her entire relationship with her husband and offering heartfelt looks into various points in their decades together. They most certainly had the kind of idealized romance many can only dream about, from the raw passion to the intense devotion and Baron has painted that picture enchantingly.

The final player in this work is Warren, Antoinette's son who is struggling to understand her mental decline. With little other ideas to try to pull her attention, coupled with the goings-on in his personal life, Warren begins creating all the heartfelt, homemade dishes he grew up. These are dishes Antoinette made from the heart with her family and friends in mind, doing her own spin on well known dishes and naming them after those she loves. Though it seems irrelevant, Baron has weaved not only the titles of the dishes but the stories behind the names and the slow change they create in Warren seamlessly, making the reader want to find out more of these dishes. This story line overlaps with Antoinette's as much as can be expected when one character prefers to be alone, creating the allusion of a solitary life even in the midst of family.

Throughout the book, all three characters' personalities come through strongly and develop masterfully. The mystery behind Joseph's amnesia and what will become of Warren and Antoinette provide intrigue while the simple romantic element of not only Antoinette's memories but a potential spark between Warren and a caretaker at the senior complex his mother lives at builds the bonds. The manner in which these three finally connect is stunning and something hard to piece together, even if the reader can predict some aspects. The overall layout is hidden until the perfect moment in which Baron sideswipes the reader, uniting these three and providing closure.

This is a story that will resonate after the final word, filling the reader with the climax of intense emotion built throughout. As with Baron's previous novel Crossing The Bridge, his understandable of not only the English language but the complexities of emotion come through the pages, a series of words weaved beautifully yet simply. This is a romance to pick up, a story to engage in, and a plot to remember.

Source: Finished paperback provided for review from the publisher
Mass Market Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Story Plant, The (May 11, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981956866
ISBN-13: 978-0981956862

Author's Website

1 comment:

  1. This sounds breathtaking! Why haven't I heard of Michael baron until now?? Thanks for the incredible review! :)