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Homesick

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4.06  ·  Rating details ·  297 ratings  ·  64 reviews
The coming of age story of an award-winning translator, Homesick is about learning to love language in its many forms, healing through words and the promises and perils of empathy and sisterhood.

Sisters Amy and Zoe grow up in Oklahoma where they are homeschooled for an unexpected reason: Zoe suffers from debilitating and mysterious seizures, spending her childhood in hospi
...more
Hardcover
Published September 10th 2019 by Unnamed Press
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Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  297 ratings  ·  64 reviews


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Janet
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In Jennifer Croft's impressionistic memoir of sisterhood, Amy and Zoe, two children from an academic family in Oklahoma, are absolutely different and yet inseparable. Amy, the elder sister, is the family star, the perfectionist, obsessed by words and actions and collections, protective and attached to the three years younger Zoe, a lively and lovable girl striken by seizures caused by a brain tumor. Amy is our narrator, and unfolds a tale of mutual dependence and shakily growing separation, as t ...more
Eric
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Since I first received this book in March, I have read it twice. It’s something I rarely do unless I’m returning to one of the classics or to a touchstone, but this book demanded it, which I guess means it has become a touchstone.

There is something to the way that Jennifer Croft explores the seams of language and the paths by which personal idiom intersects with, becomes collective parlance (and the opposite: the way we eke out private meaning from common language). The way words conjure image a
...more
Elizabeth
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a memoir that mixes coming-of-age & the art of photography to tell the story of two sisters. Jennifer Croft is a translator who won (w/ Olga Tokarczuk) the Man Booker International Prize for Flights. Homesick is her first book written in English (her first language). I kept thinking while reading Homesick that Jennifer was able to translate what is normally untranslatable: thoughts & feelings. She writes about loyalty, guilt, & the power of love in such an effortless way. Recommended. ...more
Will
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Every word is untranslatable if what translation is is making something new that stays the same . . . But that’s not what translation is.”
Idra
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This inventive, stellar memoir examines the tensions between siblings and their separate fates in the most unsettling, unexpected ways. Croft's keen attention to the nuances and music of language is abundantly present in every sentence of Homesick.
kasia
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a really lovely memoir of a difficult adolescence. Croft writes about growing up in Oklahoma; her bond with her sister, who struggled with seizures and a brain tumor; and her increasing fascination with both words, in various languages, and photography. There's a beautiful interplay between image and text, as the book is threaded through with evocative photos bearing poetic captions. A wonderful book, full of surprises.
John
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First off, this is a beautiful book as object. From the swirling colors on the cover to the square color photographs integrated into the text. Frequently, as I read this, I couldn't help flipping through the pages to indulge in the physical pleasures of the book. And then the story itself, a memoir of the author's emergence in relation to her sister. Except that the author has given herself and her sister fictional names in order to write the memoir in the third person. And what I loved most abo ...more
Kate
Oct 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Having won many awards, including the 2018 Booker for translation, lends to interest in Croft's story. Her gift for seeing a richness in words beyond that of others fascinates. The construct is unusual for a memoir, as she has changed all the names, including those of the two main characters, which are herself and her sister. Photographs, primarily hers, illustrate the book throughout.
Mom
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
I didn't "get" this book. It's a memoir, but all the names are changed and perhaps lots more. Reviews talk excitedly about the juxtaposition of photographs and text, but most of the photos meant nothing to me. Edges of buildings, rocks, patterns.... Croft is apparently a lover of words (so am I) but in this book the references to words, to their origins and etymologies, seems pretty detached from anything in the text.

There are loads of positive reviews of this memoir, so there must be something
...more
Elijah Lucas
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredibly beautiful book.
Edd Simmons
I don’t think it’s not too often from experience you get see a translators notes. Yet you get an amazing story about sister, and scholarly love. Jennifer Croft just so happened to write this book from the third person point of view. Besides showing off her unique writing style, the book had a flow that showed her life in pieces with incredible love for her sister Zoe who was sick. They were homeschooled and had similar love interest, and many times stayed together.
The book was also very photogr
...more
Judith
Sep 29, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a beautiful and short memoir detailing a rather brilliant girl's relationship with her sister. It is vivid and realistic as well as poetic. I loved particularly this line:
" Above all, we are the shelter we seek out in others and the safe haven we become for those we choose to love. "
John
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is 1000% my jam. I loved it (& it hurt me) ...more
Leslie Morrison
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Oklahoma. Sisterhood. Homeschool. Suicide. Photography. Substance abuse. Poetry. Searching. I’ve been affected (lived, suffered, loved) by all of these things. Jennifer Croft is a poet.
Jonathan
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A moving memoir from recipient of 2018 Man Booker International prize for translation. I became familiar with Jennifer Croft when I discovered and was blown away by her translation of Olga Tokarczuk's FLIGHTS. This 250 page book was read in a few sittings. Her story could not be told the way it was if it were not for its sensitive connection to her sister. This is the story of a relationship. The author does not use their real names. We can’t know why. Perhaps it gives it a
distance that is easi
...more
Robin
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't like this book, but since it was a simple and fast read, I finished it.

The New York Times wrote: "It’s a complex portrait of a young Oklahoma woman’s development of a rich and exacting interior life. It’s also a visual love letter to family, language and self-understanding... Every page of this stunning and surprising book turns words around and around."

After I read this review, I was looking forward to the book, since I like reading about people's psyches and the "development of a ric
...more
Azarin
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Homesick by Jennifer Croft is one of the best memoirs I've ever read (and listened to) in ages. The story is told in an unconventional way for a memoir accompanied by photos, and text (some from the book and some not.)
Croft writes the same way we remember things, never in a chronological way, never very clear, or precise, and it makes the experience of reading so much more powerful. The intimate and private world of these two sisters, as it was, marks the real world of pictures like a pink fog.
...more
Wally Wood
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Childhood is a foreign country in which we've all lived but few of us can evoke the landscape and the events we lived through the way Jennifer Croft does in Homesick.

Homesick is an exquisite little book, filled with color photographs, mostly snapshots, that Croft and her mother have taken over the years. A headnote at the book's beginning quotes Henri Cartier-Bresson: "We photographers deal in things that are continually vanishing and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth tha
...more
Terry Pitts
Homesick tells of the lives of Amy and Zoe, sisters in Tulsa, Oklahoma, over the span of about two decades. Amy and Zoe build a close relationship, often around shared secrets, as they grow up in a slightly dysfunctional family that is forced to face a series of challenges. The first challenge is the concussion Zoe receives as a preschooler while playing with her grandfather, which will have lifelong, frightening consequences for her. The second is the suicide of Sasha, Amy’s Russian tutor, and ...more
Ayeh Bandeh-ahmadi
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The genius of this book is in how it tackles heavy themes (family secrets, mental illness, tragedy) through a really innovative and delightful format of vignettes interspersed with gorgeous, full-color photos. Croft layers the protagonist’s point of view then (via vignettes describing the events as they originally unfolded) and her point of view now (via photos and commentary on them as she writes the book). Together, the text and photos wrap their metaphorical big arms around the distances of t ...more
Emily
Jennifer Croft slightly fictionalizes her life and tells her story in the 3rd person, making her memoir a highly readable autobiographical novel.
By stepping back from her life, Jennifer shows us the incredibly close relationship she had with her longer sister and the impact her sister's ongoing illness had. In fact, we see the illness impacting the whole family, as their parents struggle with periods of unemployment along with the serious illness of their youngest daughter. Through all of this,
...more
Lauren Davis
Jul 11, 2020 rated it liked it
In many ways an intoxicating read, I was - on a certain level - surprised that I did not fall in love with Jennifer Croft’s memoir Homesick. The format - short vignettes interspersed with photographs and captions that provide a complementary narrative - is striking and unique. Her voice is strong, childlike, maturing as the characters grow up. The tension is palpable. And yet, many facets irritated me. The characters have factionalized names yet it is branded as a memoir. Croft often asks us, he ...more
Tammy Johnson
Feb 13, 2020 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Donia
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Memoirs are subjective and are difficult to honestly review in that anyone with a caring personality would not wish to offend the writer and hence my quandary. I'm sorry this family had to endure what they did and wish them well but it is the publication that I am reviewing.

Homesick is a lovely little book to hold and look at. The book is filled with small artsy photographs that any of us could produce throughout the pages. Along with the photographs is verse that shares the personal journey of
...more
Emma Jones
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Jennifer Croft is a SUPER COOL translator and lady (if you haven’t heard of her, look her up), and her autobiographical novel is also very, very cool. Though sometimes it’s unfairly sad - it’s the story of two sisters, the younger of whom suffers from seizures. The two move in very different directions, but they share many similarities - their memories, the stories they like, their passion for learning languages. The writing is simplistic but never panders, and the inclusion of sometimes cryptic ...more
Amanda Parmer
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Croft's diaristic style feels almost too easy, math, love of language and translation are threaded through the narrative in a simple way that in hindsight is pruned to an economy of vignettes and relationships. The love of language she instills in the story and selection of words, her capacity to imbue them with corporeal sensation reminds me of what Audre Lorde said, that poetry is the most subversive use of language because it attempts to bring about a change by altering peoples feeling and th ...more
Cassandra
Apr 07, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tara
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I sometimes write in the third person as it's easier to write memoir about personal experiences with a little distance for me. I appreciated that aspect of this book, though I don't know if that's why this author chose to change her name and others, etc. I have little bookmarks (small pieces of torn paper) in between many pages. I'm still thinking about language and families and what it means to be sick and what it means to be home. A book I may read again, to see what I missed the first time, a ...more
Jonathan Vatner
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Homesick is a book that defies categorization. It's a memoir, it's a novel, it's a series of snapshots of a young life. The story of Amy, a brilliant Oklahoma girl whose sister Zoe suffers from frequent seizures, runs alongside an illustrated meditation on language and translation. The cumulative effect is gripping and moving and profound. I devoured the book and am still thinking about the sadness woven throughout.
Susan Kinnevy
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderul book! Very unusual for a memoir, written in the third person, tracing lives of two sisters, one of who has a beain tumor and multiple seizures throughout her life, the other (the author) who was a child prodigy and is now a renowned translator. So beautifully written, with polaroids insterspersing chapters with captions discussing words and their translations, the impermanence and instability of words themselves, their limited ability o translate experience.
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