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Back Home

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,533 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
Rusty Dickinson was sent to the United States from England at the age of seven in 1940 to survive the war. When she returns in 1945, she finds a country and a family she neither understands nor likes, and vice versa.
Paperback, 375 pages
Published May 1st 1992 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published January 1st 1984)
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World War II England
39th out of 121 books — 156 voters
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Boarding School Stories
166th out of 576 books — 799 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,332)
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Apr 25, 2009 CLM rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lisa, Abigail, Wendy
When Rusty returns to England after having been evacuated to America during WWII, both her family and the country seem unfamiliar and alien. Adjusting to her old life is not made easier by the fact that she now has an American accent and a free and easy way of challenging authority that does not make her popular with her teachers or peers. Worst of all, Rusty feels as if her mother is a stranger, and not very supportive at that. And boarding school, often the refuge for those unhappy at home, be ...more
Alex Baugh
Mar 16, 2011 Alex Baugh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2
Michelle Magorian is probably best known for her excellent book Goodnight, Mr. Tom, but she also wrote several other World War II novels for adolescent readers. One of those other books is Back Home.

It begins in the summer of 1945. The war is over and 12 year old Virginia Dickinson is returning to England. Virginia had been a scared, timid 7 year old when she was evacuated to an American family in Connecticut. Five years have passed and she is confident 12 year old who now goes by the name Rust
Naomi Sarah
This book confuses me personally. I love it. But it's also really annoying and the main character - Rusty - annoys me to bits. Plus, there are things in it that are uncomfortable to read. But yeah. I really like it. :-) It's well written, and I have really really good memories discovering it and reading it in my little attic room at the age of twelve.
Trish at Between My Lines
I've read a sample of this thanks to Penguin UK and it has been a reminder of just why I loved this book so many years ago. That sense of not belonging is captured so clearly by all the children returning home to England from America after the war. Their homeland and parents feel like strangers and the struggle to adapt and fit back it makes for a very emotional storyline.

You get hooked in very quickly by twelve-year-old Rusty as she is a very likeable main character but one who plummets into a
Jul 23, 2011 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth K.
Jul 31, 2009 Elizabeth K. rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008-new-reads
This is an older kidlit title -- I've had this thing for the past year or two where I'm focused on novels and non-fiction accounts of the children who were evacuated from Britain to the US during WWII, based on a conversation that was going on with the Betsy-Tacy group. Kidlit fans may recall that Magorian is probably best known for the five-Kleenex Goodnight, Mr. Tom. In this book, Rusty, our heroine, has returned to England after living in Connecticut for most of the war years, and has a varie ...more
Jan 17, 2013 Grammar*Kitten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of my all time favourite books when I was a child.

I remember the copy I had - it had a different cover back then - but it was the most tattered, dog eared book I have perhaps ever owned. I have a sneaking suspicion that I might have actually stolen it from school. Either that or my mum picked it up for me from a second hand book stall at a school fete or something, but either way I'm digressing.

I probably read it nearly twenty times. I used to love stories about this kind of time pe

(view spoiler)
Lisa Birch
Apr 25, 2016 Lisa Birch rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-i-have-read
I have reread this book more than any other. In fact, once I finished reading it, felt sad, and immediately started it again.

Story time:
Virginia, who likes to be known as Rusty, returns to England after four years of being a sea evacuee in the United States. She is 12 on her return, and has few memories of England. Her 'adopted' parents helped instill a love of art and woodwork, and her siblings gave some confidence to the very small Virginia who arrived in the States at age 7.

On her return, her
Angie B
Sep 02, 2015 Angie B rated it it was amazing
I recently rediscovered this book, when sorting through some old children's books. I know the author is better known for Goodnight Mister Tom (which I also liked) but I always preferred this title. I really related to the story of 12 year old Rusty having to leave her loving home in the USA after 5 years and relocate back to England, as I also had to reluctantly move to a different town and school, at the same age. The story brings to life the very real plight of evacuees finally returning home ...more
Sep 13, 2014 Susann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vanessa B. recommended Back Home to me in the 6th grade and, given her great taste in books, I wonder why she and I were only school friends and never played outside of school. This was the first book to pierce my Anglophilia and show me that not everything about England is so dandy.

After five swell years in the States with the bohemian Omsk family, Rusty has a hard time returning to bombed, rationed England and a family she barely remembers.

I thought I remembered how intense Magorian can be an
Jun 17, 2014 Vickstar rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, ya
Continuing on with my boarding school trend, I also picked this up as a recommended boarding school classic. It's an interesting depiction of the immediate post-war era in England and the longer term repercussions of being a child evacuee, with great description that makes the historical feel very real. I was aware that children were evacuated from cities to the countryside during wartime in the UK but not that some were sent overseas; the main character Rusty was sent to the States and the book ...more
Emer (ALittleHaze)
Apr 15, 2016 Emer (ALittleHaze) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childhood-favs
I remember first reading this book when I was about 11 or 12 years old. It was a perfect book to read at that age as not only was it a wonderful story that taught me about the toll that a war takes on a child but I also remember identifying with the same awkward adolescent changes and experiences that the protagonist was going through. I must've borrowed my library's copy at least a dozen times. One of my all time absolute favourite books
Kat Mant
Jan 14, 2015 Kat Mant rated it really liked it
I decided to start the year off with this book as it had been a favourite of mine when I was younger.

I love reading about this time period, imagining myself as an evacuee. It really gets you straight in to the mindset of 12 year old Rusty and I loved being transported to this era.

What I adored, and completely forgot about this book, was that it is set in Devon. I currently live in Exeter and it was lovely to have that even greater sense of connection when reading this the second time around.

Sarah Goodwin
Jan 02, 2016 Sarah Goodwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pinki Pal
Mar 30, 2015 Pinki Pal rated it it was amazing
I listened to a BBC radio dramatisation (unabridged I believe) with a dozen voice actors.
When Rusty Dickinson returns to England from the United States where she was evacuated for safekeeping while the United Kingdom was being bombed by the Luftwaffe in World War II, she is dismayed by the stiff reserved and proper expectations which jar with her casual extrovert American lifestyle.

I loved the fish-out-of-water comedy (or tragedy) of manners which ensues when a bright extrovert child confronts s
Great book. Didn't touch me as much as Goodnight Mr. Tom or A Little Love Song but its definitely going on the favourites pile.

Virginia or Rusty as she's been called by her American family is returning to England after 5 years. She was evacuated to America at the age of 7 hen the war broke out. Returning to her 'real home' is confusing for her. She feels like a fish out of water, everything is more drab and dull. She has less freedom and her Americanisms are frowned upon and seen as something to
If you know Magorian's "Goodnight Mr. Tom" (which I must admit, I only know from the movie), you're half way to understanding Back Home.

Back Home is the story of a girl who was evacuated to the USA at the start of WWII, age 7. We hear little of her days there, except as recollections in the course of her "new" life, back in England, 1945, 12 years old.

It is easy to forget how different the USA and UK of those eras were.

And consider the differenece between a 7 year old and a 12 year old. Poor Rus
Mar 14, 2011 Paula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like 'Goodnight Mr Tom' also by Michelle Magorian which I read earlier this month, I first read 'Back Home' when I was a teenager and like 'Goodnight Mr Tom', I also enjoyed the book the second time as much as I did the first time. 'Back Home' is a story of family and the changes they can and do go through, Rusty returns from a place of safety to a place that has changed drastically because of the war, and her family has changed to, after years of separation, Rusty and her parents barely know ea ...more
LH Johnson
Sep 05, 2013 LH Johnson rated it it was amazing
I have a lot of love for Michelle Magorian, one of the great dames of British children's literature. I've spoken about Back Home before, briefly, in a list of books featuring Dartington Hall, the place where I went to University. It was, however, a too brief mention and so I returned to Back Home in order to review it properly.

And, to be honest, I returned because I've spent too long without reading a Michelle Magorian. She's one of those writers who simply is and always will be there in my life
Feb 22, 2010 Kate rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, j, history
I have been forgetting to read this for something more than 20 years, and I'm glad I finally got around to it. Magorian wrote Goodnight Mr. Tom, which I still think is a great kids book about abuse and about the WWII evacuation of children to the countryside, good enough to reread every so often when I need a nice sense of faith in humanity and a good hanky-drenching.

This story wasn't quite as good. Rusty was evacuated all the way to the US (I didn't realize they did that!) and when she returns
Dec 09, 2013 stephanie rated it really liked it
Recommended to stephanie by: classroom stacey
i loved this book. if i had read this when i was younger, this clearly would have been a favorite.

yes, it's a bit simple in the plot. rusty was 7 when she was sent to live with american relatives to be safe during the war. she returns at age 13 to a mother she doesn't know, and a country she has no memories of.

however, the undercurrent of the women's movement was really spot-on, authentic, and didn't feel forced. peggy, rusty's mom, has had to adjust to life without a husband. rusty's grandmot
Sep 12, 2008 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone desperate for a positive portrayal of the U.S.
Recommended to Stephanie by: Jill Linden
Shelves: mycuppa
Many years ago, a friend of my mine recommended this book. I bought it and tossed it aside, thinking it boring. After re-reading the same author's masterpiece, Goodnight, Mr. Tom, I decided to give Back Home another try. Boy, am I glad I did. The story so clearly illustrates the sharp difference between postwar England and postwar America. It brought to mind Jessica Mitford's first impressions of the U.S. during the same period: the central heating, the endless optimism, the glorious food. As an ...more
Jul 12, 2015 Carina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book! I thought when I picked it up that I would hate it, but the ending turned out great. I felt Rusty was an amazing main character, but sometimes the plot dragged along and was depressing. Another character I grew to love was Rusty's mom, Peggy. The ending was so jovial that I ended up enjoying it. The author made me feel sorry for the characters, too which made me sad for them. Overall, I loved this book!

I give it 4/5 stars.
Sarah Adamson
Jan 10, 2015 Sarah Adamson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, novel, ya
Another excellent book from this very talented author. She brings to life the children's stories from World War Two in the UK allowing modern day children and adults to relate to the real life difficult situations. Beautifully told, historically accurate, unfortunate but well written characters. Positive from the bad times.
Louise Nichols Cook
Aug 29, 2012 Louise Nichols Cook rated it it was amazing
I have read this book about three times now and i still love it :) The girl (Rusty(or Virginia)) is so like me :) yay :) she even looks like me :p
Its a really sad story and one that admittidly did make me cry when i first read it becuase it genuinely was really sad. The way the author describes everything with enough detail for you to be able to picture what you need to see, but doesn't over do it, really brings home the harshness of the war. Becuase she is right, the war was not fun, it brought
Feb 07, 2013 Harrietthespy rated it really liked it
*Spoilers ahead*

I first read Back Home when I was about 12 years-old. The dog-eared copy once belonged to my older sister and she loved it. I subsequently dog-eared it even more, returning to it time and time again throughout my early to mid-teens.

I instantly connected with Rusty’s character and could deeply empathise with her alienation and injustices, both at her draconian boarding school (which makes Mallory Towers seem like a holiday club in comparison) and her new home with the ‘Victorian’
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I remember being ridiculously depressed by this book at 14. I'm tempted to re-read it just to see whether what I think of as "depressing" has changed, and how much.
Little Things
Feb 19, 2015 Little Things rated it really liked it
I absolutely love this book and I have just written a review on my new blog, check it out at
Laura Scarffe
Mar 22, 2014 Laura Scarffe rated it it was amazing
Probably my favourite book of all time! A fish out of water story, funny but at times very sad too. Beautifully written.
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British children's author Michelle Magorian - author of the celebrated Goodnight, Mr. Tom (1981), which won The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize - was born in Southsea, Portsmouth, in 1947. She trained to be an actress, studying at the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama, and at Marcel Marceau's L'école Internationale de Mime in Paris. While pursuing an acting career, Magorian became interes ...more
More about Michelle Magorian...

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