SueKich's Reviews > Our Homesick Songs

Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper
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it was amazing

Child-like delight, grown-up tears.

From the writer who debuted in 2015 with the wonderful Etta and Otto and Russell and James, Emma Hooper’s second novel is altogether different but equally unusual, touching and lyrical. (Be warned: she doesn’t use speech marks. As a rule, this would irritate the life out of me but somehow she makes it work.) There’s something really quite special about Ms Hooper’s writing. Difficult to put one’s finger on; a kind of child-like delight that brings to mind the very best of young fiction. One almost expects illustrations, silhouettes by Jan Pienkowski perhaps. And wonder of wonders, towards the end of the book, there are indeed silhouettes of bears and fish! (Let me reassure you though, this book is not remotely twee.)

The story is set in Newfoundland, Canada, primarily in 1992. When the fish vanish from the treacherous waters surrounding the tiny community of Big Running, the people start to disappear too. Work must be found. For the Connors, Aidan and Martha and their two children 14-year old Cora and 10-year old Finn, life is tough. But Big Running is their home and they love it. The only solution that Aidan and Martha can devise is for them to work alternate months on the mainland, a ferry-ride and a plane flight away. The school has become unsustainable and the Connors kids are left more or less to their own devices: Cora, bright and resourceful, decorates the islanders’ abandoned houses with her hand-made national themes – Italy! Thailand! China! Russia! Finn sails his small boat across to Mrs Callaghan, the lone resident left in neighbouring Little Running, to learn the accordion and listen to her stories. If only he could find a way to entice the fish back so that life could return to normal. Song is very nearly as important to the islanders as food and drink, and besides, there is always a chance that a mermaid will sing back to them from the icy waves…

This book is magical without being winsome, poignant without being mawkish. It made me feel awe for people who lead such hardscrabble lives. It made me feel glad I didn’t live in Newfoundland (however much the Connors loved it). It frequently made me smile. And it certainly made me cry on more than one occasion. This memorable tale is almost enough to make one believe in mermaids…
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Reading Progress

February 25, 2018 – Started Reading
February 25, 2018 – Shelved
February 28, 2018 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by Sid (new)

Sid Nuncius Great review, Sue - thanks. And "hardscrabble" - first class word!


SueKich Thanks Sid - though perhaps you shouldn't go by me after Asymmetry!


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