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Sing Them Home

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  3,390 ratings  ·  688 reviews
The eagerly anticipated second novel from the author of Broken for You - a national best seller and selection of the Today Show Book Club - is a sweeping, gorgeously crafted family story set in the American heartland.

With her best-selling debut novel, Broken for You, Stephanie Kallos earned comparisons to John Irving, Anne Tyler, Margaret Atwood, and Carol Shields, establi
Hardcover, 542 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published 2007)
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3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,390 ratings  ·  688 reviews

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Feb 09, 2009 rated it did not like it
"Read" is cheating -- I read about 100 pages and quit. I would have thrown it against a wall but 1) it was a library book and 2) it's pretty fat, so it would have left a dent. I'm sure people who like magical realism will adore this book, but I thought it was goopy and annoying. Just as I'd become interested in a "real" character, some random dead person would appear and the author would waste five pages on a lot of woo-woo philosophizing about the dead and their opinions. Dead people, apparentl ...more
Mar 02, 2009 rated it liked it
I just don't know what to say about this one. At the core, this book is a family drama, in which 3 vaguely dysfunctional adult siblings try to make their way in the world after the bizarre deaths of both of their parents (Mom: sucked up in a tornado; Dad: struck by lightning). I loved this book when it focused on these characters.

But the author was trying to do more than just tell the story of these people. She was trying to tell the story of an odd little Welsh town in Nebraska (what does it me
Aug 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did, I was hooked. Kallos is a good writer, and one of her strengths is her subtle, intelligent humor. I really liked, too, how she feeds you a little bit of information at a time and makes you wait till the end of the book to get the whole story about this odd family and even odder town. For me, the biggest drawback was the terrible editing. There were lots of typos ("acamedician" was a standout among the more mundane misspellings) and odd mi ...more
Feb 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book rocked my world. The writing is superb and I couldn't put it down. I usually stick to shorter novels, but had no trouble staying interested in this work. I might have to buy my own copy so I can underline the innumerable insightful passages in the book.
Mar 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Okay, maybe I am too picky, but editorial errors make me crazy and can even stop me from reading any further! In like the second chapter, a minor character, Kris, is introduced. Just a few paragraphs later, and from then on, the same character is referred to as "Chris". Why why why would no one have caught this? I am only reading on because of all the other great reviews that promise a terrific story... Grrr!

... So I finished the book, but the editorial errors continued. For example, the stage i
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Carolyn -- Targu Mures Book Group
It's been a long time since I've felt so close to what I begrudgingly must admit are fictional characters. And I don't mean that these characters felt like friends or neighbors, but that each of them was a part of me, and their story on the page was a piece of my story I hadn't yet considered. Kallos' writing is stunning -- poetically lush and sharp at the same time. Beware, there is magic realism here; the dead will speak, but it only makes the voices of the living more distinct. This story has ...more
Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
Sing Them Home is a moving portrait of three siblings who have lived in the shadow of unresolved grief since their mother’s disappearance when they were children. Everyone in Emlyn Springs knows the story of Hope Jones, the physician’s wife whose big dreams for their tiny town were lost along with her in the tornado of 1978. For Hope’s three young children, the stability of life with their preoccupied father, and with Viney, their mother’s spitfire best friend, is no match for Hope’s absence. La ...more
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If I fell in love with Stephanie Kallos's first novel, Broken for You, and then again with her third, Language Arts, imagine my delight when I discovered her sophomore novel, Sing Them Home, and went head over heels a third time. There are very few authors, and only Barbara Kinsolver comes to mind, whose work is so consistently amazing that it is, indeed, like falling in love to read their work. Fresh writing, still fresh. Deeply imagined places, characters and themes. Sing Them Home is one of t ...more
Nov 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
I anxiously awaited the release of this book as I loved the author's first book: Broken for You. This book was scheduled for a January 2009 release but hit the stores and libraries earlier.


Sing Them Home is a moving portrait of three siblings who have lived in the shadow of unresolved grief since their mother’s disappearance when they were children. Everyone in Emlyn Springs knows the story of Hope Jones, the physician’s wife whose big dreams for their tiny town were lost along wit
Jul 23, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was so diappointing. I loved Kallos' first novel, Broken For You. This was 540 pgs that never really got to a climax and never resolved/worked thru the big issues. Finished feeling disappointed and wondering how the main characters came to their 'happy' ending. You never seem them work thru their challenges to end up with a happy ending! Sad that after anxiously waiting for her 2nd book, this was such a let down
May 13, 2010 rated it it was ok
The book was just okay. The editing seemed to be non existent. There were spelling errors, names were spelled differently from one page to another and some parts just went on for way too long. Any good editor would have chopped a few paragraphs, took out a few adjectives, made sure the names were consistent throughout and corrected the spelling. These errors made the book much less enjoyable.
Laurie Armstrong
Aug 30, 2009 rated it liked it
When I began this book, I just knew it was going to be a great read. However, the more I read the less interested I became. It seemed to drag on and on and on.....I kept looking for "the point". And the ending, well, it just really left me hanging.
Jan 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This may be my new favorite novel: I love the rendering of Nebraska (where I currently reside) and its exploration of grief and absence. The characters are complicated and nicely drawn. A lovely book, seriously.
Jan 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Amazingly layered, so many complete characters. One of those books that you must immerse yourself in, and then feel panic when you realized the end is near.
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a saga, a sweeping family story that lodges in your marrow, the kind of story that makes you smile, laugh, weep, snort, chortle, sing, spread your arms wide and lay your heart wide open.

With flavors tender, ribald, ironical, farcical, tragic, magical, and wondrous, Sing Them Home narrates an epic story of a family emotionally disrupted by the disappearance of their mother (and wife), Hope, in a Nebraska tornado of 1978. Hope was swept up, along with her Singer sewing machine and a Steinw
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book was absolutely beautiful. I loved every single page of it. The characters were so vivid, the prose so gorgeous, the setting so lovingly is a true classic.

When Hope Jones goes up in a tornado in 1978, it gives her children no way to let go of her. Without a body, they, and the town, cannot perform the traditional days of grieving and singing that they have inherited as part of their Welsh lineage. While those rituals help with loss for everyone else, without a body for Ho
Manik Sukoco
Dec 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! It is a beautifully written story of one family and one Welsh Town in Southeastern Nebraska. We are taken through the life of Hope and Llwellyn Jones and their three children, Larken, Gaelan and Bonnie. This is also the story of Vinie (the children's stepmother) yet she never really married their father.
The couple marry in the early 1960's and settle down in his hometown of Emlyn Springs, Nebraska. It is a town that honors all their Welsh traditions and Hope falls in love with
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Okay, between 4 1/2 and five stars. A really good book! It starts near the "end" of the story, with a father's death due to being hit by lightning on the golf course. His three adult children -- all of whom are quirky and unusual, perhaps due to the mysterious disappearance of their mother during a tornado when they were children -- come home to mourn him and to reconnect with their past. The setting is the small town of Emlyn Springs, Nebraska, a town founed by Welsh settlers, which has held fi ...more
Sep 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jeanne by: PW
Wow! I don't even know where to start. This is a very special novel; I haven't read anything this good in a long time.

Our story begins with the death of Llewellyn Jones, the mayor of Emlyn Springs, Nebraska. His death brings together the three Jones children: Larken, Gaelan, and Bonnie. Larken is now a respected professor of art history at the University of Nebraska, Gaelan is the hunky weatherman for KLAN-KHAM, and Bonnie is the town eccentric of Emlyn Springs.

Each sibling has his/her own comp
May 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
During the first few chapters, I thought, wow, what wonderful, descriptive writing. During the next few, I thought, O.k. that's too descriptive (second by second recount of how a character eats a candy bar). But by the middle, I was comfortably tucked into the tale of 3 siblings whose mother was carried off by a tornado when they were children and now have reunited with the death of their father (by lighting). Kallos tries to follow each sibling as they deal with issues surrounding their childho ...more
Aug 10, 2009 rated it did not like it
Read the first chapter, but couldn't make myself go any farther. Some reviews said the book got better after the first 100+ pages, but I couldn't make myself trudge through to the "better" part of the book. Just goes to show you that the beginning of the book is just as important as the rest--often you can lose your reader in the first 25 pages, especially if the book doesn't "get good" until after the first 100 pages.
Apr 20, 2009 rated it did not like it
I gave up on this book after about 160 pages. At a recent staff meeting with Nancy Pearl as guest speaker we learned there are 4 basic kinds of books, books with story as the prime gateway, or those with character, setting or language as the gateway. This was a character book and I just couldn't like these folks enough to continue on. A big disappointment to me since I like her previous book, Broken For You so much.
Hot Cup O'Monkey
Mar 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
Some good stuff here, but unfortunately it was a good 300 pages too long.
I do not mind long books, but Kallos definitely did some unnecessary rambling.

In the first half of the book, the characters reminded me exactly of rubble from a tornado--they were disconnected, displaced, remote, without a home.
It was nice to see them come together, and some of the characters were charming.
But not my favorite...
Oct 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Stephanie Kallos has a remarkable gift. She writes about everyday life and the kind of people that you might not notice as you pass them on the street, and make them both come alive in a magical way. A small town, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and a longing for family mixed with the fragility of happiness all come together to make this a wonderful book.
May 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
I wish Kallos had taken the time to craft the type of novel she did with Broken For You. This isn't it. It was okay, barely, okay. There were at least six different narrative voices, and that was probably five too many. Had she focused the story on just the mother, it might have been better.

Also, she had some bad data on fat girls. That never plays well for me, only annoys.
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book was way too long for the story it was telling. Initially the extensive description was great, then it just became too descriptive.
Barbara ★
The premise of the book sounded interesting: 3 young siblings left behind after their mother disappeared during a tornado; all supposedly with stress related mental issues. The oldest, Larken Jones is an overweight art professor hiding her eating disorder from everyone. Perpetually single but in love with her married neighbor. She's just existing from day to day not really living at all. The middle child, Gaelan is an overly sensitive and good looking body-building weatherman who uses women and ...more
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
One of the things I really liked about this book was that "the dead" as a group are characters in this book with lives, interests, and a tendency to gossip beyond the grave. Not like zombies or in the way that stories usually have dead characters in a book, where living characters have memories of them or readers are taken back in time to see them when they were alive. The dead in this book are dead, but have active "lives," spiritually hanging around the cemetery, traveling around the world, ke ...more
Kathy McC
Jul 14, 2009 rated it liked it
I really don't know about this book. I guess I liked it because of the characters that are unusual and well defined. But, I like a riveting plot and there was no overall plot. There were the subplots that involved each of the 4 main characters, but there really was not a larger "scheme of things". I also felt like after all the sadness and dysfunction in the lives of the characters, Kallos felt like she had to bring us into the sunlight so she provided a quickly and neatly wrapped happy ending. ...more
Iowa City Public Library
The 2011 All Iowa Reads book is Stephanie Kallos‘ Sing Them Home. I just listened to this book on disc and thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to discussing this book with others as a part of the All Iowa Reads program in 2011!!

Sing Them Home is set in the small Welsh community of Emlyn Springs, Nebraska and focuses on the Jones family. Everyone in Emlyn Springs knows the Jones family because their matriarch, Hope Jones, was carried away by a tornado and was never seen again. Hope’s family, in
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Stephanie Kallos spent twenty years in the theatre as an actor and teacher. Her short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and received a Raymond Carver Award. Her first novel, BROKEN FOR YOU, received the Pacific Northwest Book Award, the Washington State Book Award, and was chosen by Sue Monk Kidd as the December 2004 selection for "The Today Show." Her second novel, SING THEM HOME, w ...more