THE ROAD HOME by Eliza Thomas


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 Knowing that she ``badly needed a change'' after years of odd jobs and lousy apartments, Thomas purchased an old Boy Scout cabin on four acres in rural Vermont. She wanted ``privacy but not seclusion,'' and the cabin was well-situated to her tastes and needs: on a dirt road not far from the highway, in a valley bounded by trees. ``It had power and water and a phone line and was as nice as anything I could afford.'' Thomas, with her dog, Lily (who gets a lot of space here), and her friend Julian, would escape to their cabin periodically; gradually, she begins to enlarge it, to make it into a home. Like Michael Pollan in A Place of My Own (p. 126), she provides an amateur's enthusiastic record of everything from the excavation of the foundations for new rooms to the erection of the walls and roof. There is also much rumination on her life, on being in her 40s, directionless, frustrated, and unhappy. Having hit ``rock bottom,'' she decided to quit her job, move to the cabin and gain ``a ready- made sense of purpose and direction'' by adopting a baby. Unfortunately, Thomas chooses to present Amelia, her adopted Chinese daughter, in random glimpses and segments, so that we have the child talking and wreaking havoc in the cabin a hundred pages before Thomas closes the book with the story of the adoption itself. There are a few amusing passages, such as Julian's desperate attempts at putting up a TV antenna, and some charming vignettes, such as Thomas's delight and fascination at an infestation of ladybugs. Though often endearing, Thomas is inexplicably vague about the time frame, the cabin's location, when she adopted Amelia, and other areas that might have drawn the reader closer. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 6th, 1997
ISBN: 1-56512-169-4
Page count: 196pp
Publisher: Algonquin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1997