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Dwelling Places

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  239 ratings  ·  41 reviews

Mack and Jodie have no idea how much their lives are going to change when they decide to give up farming. Mack is hospitalized with depression, Jodie finds herself tempted by the affections of another man, and their teenage children begin looking for answers outside the family—Kenzie turns to fundamentalist Christianity, and Taylor starts cavorting with Goths. Told in the

Kindle Edition, 354 pages
Published November 4th 2008 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2006)
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3.44  · 
Rating details
 ·  239 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good story overall, narrative flowed very well. Mostly interesting enough to keep the pages turning.

Noticed a few reviews here saying "it's not their thing" well, for me, having been through evangelical Christianity and being from the rural midwest USA, I could relate to, and be entertained by, much of this content, espeically the Prostestant antics.

I don't want to leave any spoilers so I won't yet I'm not so sure about the "ending"....

Classic example of maybe there should be more than 5 stars
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was not a quick read, because it gave me much to ponder. It was very character driven, and as the chapters progressed, I was allowed to see deeply into the hearts and minds of each Barnes family member. This was a family in deep emotional pain. I appreciated that the author was able to write their story with such empathy, and to resist tying it up with a happy ending, yet leaving it with hope.
This author's previous book, "Velma Still Cooks in Leeway" spoke deeply and clearly to my heart. Wright has a way with character development. And insight into the complexities and longings of the human heart and relationships is her forte. This book did not disappoint in that area. The characters were so skillfully developed, and their thoughts and feelings in many places echoed my own, and gave words to that which is hard for me to name in myself.
The adjective that comes to mind for this story
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A small town in Iowa in the early 2000s grieves the loss of a way of life, particularly through the lives of three generations of a family. Opening line: "In Beulah, Iowa, widow women all over town garden in the clothes of deceased husbands." The first few chapters are about the return of a young farmer from hospitalization for depression. Reminded me in some ways of Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, but more down-to-earth and well, muddy, where characters think and talk about God in pretty ordinary ...more
Judy Constance
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was well written about the challenges farmers face and how it affects their families and communities too. I didn't give it a five star rating as it had a very abrupt ending and it would have been far more satisfying to finish well the characters who had been so carefully developed from the beginning.
Christie Purifoy
What an exquisite novel. I kept thinking as I read, "This is the real world. Not only its heartache, but it's goodness and it's grace."

Vinita Hampton Wright is a phenomenal writer. I can't believe this book isn't better known.
Stephanie Robinson
Not my thing. It would pull me in with hints of possible promises of something that may happen and then disappear.
Linda Boyd
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a raw look at the lives of Midwestern ex farmers. It not only resonates for farmers or mid westerners but for anyone that is struggling through our current difficult times. It's beautifully written and allows the reader to appreciate the landscape as well as the sometimes awkward family dynamic. All families have their own little secrets and this is a story about the Barne's family. A family of farmers who due to difficult times had to let their farm go. The family also has a history of ...more
Jul 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Normally, inspirational or Christian fiction is not my thing, but this novel received such good reviews that I thought I would give it a go. It reminded me quite a bit of Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres, except this farming family has already lost their farm when the story opens. It's also not as dark and has a hopeful ending. The reader feels that, despite everything that has happened, things will work out. The characters are well-drawn and go through some interesting changes in the course of th ...more
Karen Williams
I enjoyed reading a book with a more realistic look at depression and how it affects the family of the person struggling with it. I loved this paragraph that concisely sums up what if feels like for the person with depression and the people around them when they first come into contact.

Folks greet them, smiling pleasantly at Mack. They welcome him back but make their greetings short, as if they understand how much he does not want to be put on the spot. It is the same way they greet someone who
Oct 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This contemporary novel follows three generations of an Iowa farm family through a difficult period in their lives. The father has just been released from the hospital for depression, the mother is losing interest in the marriage, and the teenage children are going through a difficult time. The grandmother is also struggling.

The author is a Christian, and she deals with spiritual themes throughout the book. I appreciated the fact that these themes are presented realistically and sincerely rather
Rebecca Curtis
I thought the characters were endering and the theme of the book of change and acceptance and to moving on was great however the book was really dry and it was hard to plow through. I really enjoyed the son's story which I didn't expect. He is trying to understand himself and to really learn who he is and accept himself. With all the change and the situation with his family I feel like even though he is a "Goth" he really understands how to best deal with his feelings. Even if those feelings are ...more
Aug 18, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this book. I got into this book quickly. There was a lot of reasons I empathized with the characters and I thought it was a very realistic story line that shown the domino effect of family problems. How we turn to religion for comfort. About how when people do bad things doesn't necessarily mean they are horrible people. And about how things are not black and white but many shades of grey...It was beautifully written with special intricate details and wonderful insights. HOWEVER, ...more
Mar 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This introspective novel examines the lives of a rural family in crisis. The wife is so tired of trying to hold her family together. Her husband has just returned from a mental health facility. Her daughter is going through an ultra-religious phase and spends hours at the church praying. Her son dresses all in black and is fascinated with death. She herself finds herself returning the attractions of a fellow teacher. As this book goes from one viewpoint to another, we see how the family crisis m ...more
Adriel Rose
Mar 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's rare to find a Christian fiction writer who isn't hokey and who deals with life issues in such a graceful, but realistic way. This is the third of Wright's books I've read and I plan on buying the 3 that I've read so I can read them again. There were parts of each of her books where I knew I was being taught something profound about God and faith, but that it wasn't necessarily planned by the author.
Dec 04, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as Wright's "Velma Still Cooks in Leeway," but I still thought this one was very good. Here's what makes Wright's books stand out: This book could be about ANY real-life Midwestern farming family -- their stories are that authentic. This family is dealing with losing farms due to economic troubles. Having grown up on a farm, I could really identify with these people's stories.
Donna Ialongo
Sep 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Moving story about a family and community who has to give up the life of farming. The story starts as the father (Mack) suffers from deep depression and a breakdown due to the losses in his life, of the farm, of his father and his brother. But, as the story evolves it becomes clear that his wife and children and mother also grieve for what was.

A really good story. Because we also live in a farming community I could relate to the story and sense of loss.
Jun 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A familiar story about farmers losing their farms. My brothers worked full time jobs and kept their land and now rent out the acerage but others in our area in SD did give up farming. My brother says it is too expensive to farm with a tractor costing $150,000. Many of the small farms are gone with the buildings burned down and nearby small towns shrinking...
Mar 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A Gut Wrenching Read for this Iowa Girl.

Dwelling Places is a beautifully woven, bittersweet snapshot of what is happening in one Iowa Farm family. The greater story is one of connections lost to our land and to God, but with a message of hope that our roots are our foundation. Mack's story is going to haunt me for awhile.
Apr 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think of this as a quiet book--a story about a midwest family who has gone through the loss of family members and the family farm. It's about people dealing with that loss--not in a ranting Jonathan Franzen manner--but struggling the way many of us do to understand why "good" people go through bad times.
Apr 27, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: tracy hawkins
Not a spectacular book but moving and realistic. Portrays the losses that can come out of no where and throw everyone into chaos. It also portrays how family members, with all their fralities, do their best to pull things together and survive in new ways of living.
Nov 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an unusually well-written novel that touched and shook me. The author gets deep into the hearts, lives and pains of her characters. She explores how the uncertainties and periodic losses of farm life sting and damage.
Aug 08, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was definitely boring and I had to quit it. I read about 150 pages and realized I still didn't care about the characters. Maybe it got interesting later, but it was taking too much time to get into. Would not recommend to others.
Sep 17, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Struggles of a farm family as seen through each family member's eyes. This was a good read. I was disappointed at the ending though. But I'm someone who likes endings that wrap everything up. This book leaves you wondering about each family member and that drives me nuts!
Debbie Howell
Dec 31, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Story of an Iowa farm family struggling in the aftermath of the father's suicide attempt. While faith is a part of the story, it's faith through the lens of people's imperfections, misinterpretations, and weaknesses. Excellent and well-written.
Leroy Seat
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction
This may not be a great novel, but it is a good one. Especially for people rearing on a farm in the Midwest, this is a poignant and realistic story of a family struggling to cope with loss, both of loved ones and property.
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was beautifully written and painfully true in many places.
Oct 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was NOT a light read! Well-written, thoughtful, but I related a little too well to some of the painful experiences of the characters.
Nov 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
very slow...had to struggle to finish it.
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