Cheri's Reviews > Our Homesick Songs

Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2018, 1990s, canada, newfoundland, fishing-industry, arc, netgalley

”The water is wide I can not get o'er,
And neither have I wings to fly,
Give me a boat that will carry two,
And both shall row my love and I

“O love is handsome and love is fine,
And love's a jewel when it's first new,
But love grows old then waxes cold,
And fades away like morning dew.”

--The Water is Wide, Eva Cassidy (and others) Songwriters: Unknown

As this story begins, it is 1993 in Newfoundland, Canada, then slips quickly back to 1992, with a ten-year-old Finn hopping on the rocks covered in orange, yellow and green lichen, and up ahead of him is his fourteen-year-old sister Cora. Returning from school, although they are home schooled, this is one of their once-a-month school days where they share a communal activity with the other home-schooled children.

Most of the homes around them had been abandoned, already. The fish have disappeared, followed by most of the fishermen who had previously fished as an occupation. They have had to leave Big Running, a very close and interdependent neighborhood, where the word neighbor means someone you have known most, if not all, of your life and interact with somewhat daily.

That night, Finn and Cora are told that Aidan, their father, will be leaving for mainland Canada, where he will be working alternate months for a company there, switching places with Martha, their mother so that they will always have a parent there. Just for a short time, they say, just until the fishing picks back up there again. Just until life returns to normal again.

Cora begins to reimagine and transform the interiors of the abandoned houses, each with a different, fantastical theme, a different country.

And then Cora leaves, too, leaving without a trace of a goodbye.

Finn, feeling the loss, feeling lost and grieving, all these changes in his family and the loss of all those who have moved away, his concern for those few who have stayed like Mrs. Callaghan. He plots and plans, and schemes and dreams of ways to lure Cora - and the fish - back where they belong.

In order to visit Mrs. Callaghan, who is his accordion teacher, Finn must go by way of sailing his small boat to Little Running, where she not only instructs him in his lessons, but shares with him her stories about fish and snakes and sailors. She teaches him the old songs that sailors sang to remember home. These homesick songs offer him comfort and inspiration, as does his growing knowledge of the local environment. In there, somewhere, he believes is the key to returning his home and family to their former way of life, the way they were.

Music, lyrics, float through these pages like the words of a song on the wind, including ‘The Water is Wide’, an old folk song of Scottish origin with lyrics tied to another version of this folk song, ‘O Waly, Waly,’ and other folk songs such as ’She’s Like the Swallow,’ ‘The Newfoundland Black Bear,’ and others as Finn serenades and woos the sea to lure the fish home.

The loss of the cod that were the way of life for five centuries of fishermen in Newfoundland, and undoubtedly elsewhere, when the Canadian government shut down the industry in 1992 for an indefinite period. This story is based on the imagined impact that shutdown had on Newfoundland and its people.

Mermaids, songs of mermaids, are part of the story of Finn’s parents courtship, which sets the tone for this magical story with touches of magical realism and dustings of an ethereal wistfulness that whispers of yearning to break free of the bonds of the past, and a longing to recreate the essence of our best memories lost to the past.

Pub Date: 14 AUG 2018

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Simon & Schuster
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Reading Progress

June 20, 2018 – Started Reading
June 20, 2018 – Shelved
June 20, 2018 –
June 21, 2018 –
June 21, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 75 (75 new)

Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader This is another one I have coming up, Cheri! Can’t wait for your thoughts!

Dorie  - Traveling Sister :) I have this one coming up also :)

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Julie I'm in! You had me at "Newfoundland!"

Cheri Thanks, Jennifer, I think you'll really enjoy this. I haven't read her other book though so I can't compare. Can't wait for you to read this!

Cheri Dorie, I think you will also enjoy this, it's sad and it's sweet (a different song) but she has this charm that seems to come through even the sad parts.

Cheri Thank you Julie! I've wanted to go to Newfoundland for too long! I hope you love this!

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Meredith Love your review, Cheri!

message 8: by Antoinette (new) - added it

Antoinette Lovely review, Cheri!

message 9: by Julie (new) - added it

Julie Cheri,
I've wanted to go to Newfoundland since I read The Shipping News, and I can't seem to get there, so another book with that setting seems like a fair solution!

Cheri Thank you so much, Meredith!

Cheri Thank you, Antoinette!

Cheri Julie, I can't really remember what the original reason that prompted my wanting to go there, but it's been longer ago than when The Shipping News came out. I have a friend that lives sorta near Philadelphia that wanted to go there with me a few years ago, but that didn't work out, but one of these days! In the meantime, yes, there are books!

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Betsy Robinson Yum. I loved her Etta and Otto and Russell and James, and I know she is a musician/singer, so your review makes so much sense. I'll mark this to read. Thanks for a great review. I'm so excited that she has a new book.

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Sara I will watch for this one. You have intrigued me.

Karen Wonderful review Cheri!

message 16: by Josephine (Jo) (new)

Josephine (Jo) Great review Cheri. I love that song,we used to sing it many years ago in our folk group. x

Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader Oh, this does sound fantastic, Cheri! I cannot wait to read it. Your review is just lovely.

Cheri Thanks so much, Betsy, yes, there is a mention somewhere in the afterword perhaps about her being a musician / singer! I still have to get to Etta and Otto and Russell and James, but I really do look forward to reading it, I might have to move it up a notch or two now. I hope that you enjoy this one as much as your did E&O&R&J!

Cheri Sara, I think you might enjoy this. It's not an overall light read, but it's very balanced with a lighter side to the every-present view of the loss of a way of life.

Cheri Thanks so much, Karen!

Cheri Thanks, Jo, I love that song, too, it's lovely. It's mentioned a lot in this book, as are other songs, but I still can't get it out of my head! I hope you enjoy this story, as well.

Cheri Thank you, Maddie, you are always so sweet! xo

Cheri Thanks so much, Jennifer, I think you will really enjoy this one! I can't wait to read your thoughts on this!

Angela M So glad to see your stars ! Looking forward to this ! Great review, Cheri.

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Debra Wonderful Review, Cheri!

message 26: by Selena (new)

Selena Great review Cheri!

Dorie  - Traveling Sister :) I have to ask Cheri is this a slow moving book? I know it sounds wonderful and I have it but I have about 3 slow moving books coming up, what are your thoughts?

Bianca Beautiful review. I've got this one as well, who knows when I'll get to it.

Cheri Thanks so much, Angela, I think you will really enjoy / love this!

Cheri Thank you, Debra!

Cheri Thank you so much, Selena!

Cheri Dorie, I didn't find it to be a slow moving, but it is a quieter book, and there's not a lot of "action," a lot of self-reflection in Cora's Canadian parts. I wouldn't pass on this because I think you'll enjoy this, but you might reorganize those three and put two that will break it up if you're worried about it.

Cheri Thanks so much, Bianca, and I know the feeling!!

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Vanessa A truly wonderful review Cheri!

message 35: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Excellent review, Cheri!!

Diane S ☔ Wonderful review, Cheri. Up soon for me.

Marialyce I have this one too! Now I am very anxious to read it after your wonderful review, Cheri.

message 38: by Crumb (new)

Crumb Beautiful, Cheri!

message 39: by Holly (new)

Holly  B Lovely review Cheri!

Elyse Walters Sounds wonderful Cheri. This is the first I’ve heard of this book - or even seen that gorgeous book cover. It sounds great! Thanks.
I think I’d like it too.

And with our daughter moving - permanently to Canada in August of this year ... my eyes & ears go up about everything Canada these days. Thank you for your lovely seductive review!! 💕

Cheri Thank you so much, Vanessa!

message 42: by Tammy (new)

Tammy Really nice, Cheri!

Cheri Thank you, Deanna!

Cheri Thanks so much, Diane, I think you will really enjoy and appreciate this story, as well. Looking forward to your review!

Cheri Thanks so much, Marialyce, I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts about this one.

Cheri Thanks, Crumb!

Cheri Thank you, Holly!

Cheri Thanks so much, Elyse, I think you will enjoy this one, too. I kinda loved the cover, too. When / where in Canada is your daughter moving to? Exciting for her, and you'll have an excuse to visit there! Hope you are doing well.

Cheri Thank you, Tammy!

message 50: by Susanne (new)

Susanne Strong Stellar review Cheri! Sounds wonderful. :)

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