Christina - Traveling Sister's Reviews > Our Homesick Songs

Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper
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really liked it
bookshelves: netgalley, traveling-sisters

3.5 lyrically written, quietly absorbed stars

I'm not sure I've ever struggled so much between the 3 and 4 star range than I did with Our Homesick Songs.

This is the story of a family: Aiden, Martha and their children Cora and Finn and the dying fishing town of Big Running. As the town and fishing situation grow more desperate Aiden and Martha are forced to work inland and away from their children in alternating months. Their love for their town and their family never wavers, but the distance grows difficult for everyone.

Finn, the youngest child, feels desperate for his home and for his family. As houses are abandoned, neighbors move away and life as he knows it crumbles beneath him this desperation only grows. Finn seeks solace in his accordion teacher Mrs.Callaghan's stories, songs and tales.

This novel is steeped in magical realism, lyrical writing and quiet contemplation. Vivid detail and attention is given to the environment of Big Running. At first, I struggled to connect to this story and these characters but as I read on I realized I'd gotten the entire thing wrong. Aiden, Martha, Cora and Finn weren't the characters we were supposed to be connecting to. Hooper was much too clever for that - the environment, the town, hope and desperation were the characters driving this story.

Music plays an incredible role here and that is evident not only in writing style but in the content of the story. There are songs that date back centuries for this village that are discussed and contemplated over. These are melancholy songs, happy songs, sad songs, songs for lost loved ones, lost hopes and found dreams - they are homesick songs.

Because everyone did. Everyone believed, everyone knew, that mermaids were the sea-dead, singing their love back to you. If it wasn't too loud with rain or waves, you could hear them in the wind, most nights.

This switches between two time periods - the "present" (what we are given as to be happening now, but is actually 1993) and the past showing us the back story of Martha and Aiden. I found their love story to be effortlessly charming and heart warming. I really enjoyed being a part of their struggles and triumphs and that proposal! *swooning*

In the end, this looses 1.5 stars for me because the stylistic choices Hooper made were not my personal favorite. The conversations were a bit choppy for me and there was not a lot of distinguishing between conversation and story progression. It was a very simplistic style format that didn't speak to me personally, but I think could appeal to someone who maybe has a bit more literary prowess than I do!

I did however, decide to round up instead of down on this one because the last page really spoke to me. I was wavering between 3 and 4 stars but upon reading the last word I knew it would be an injustice to rate down. While there were some things that weren't my personal cup of tea and family sagas are not normally what I'm drawn to I think anyone with an appreciation for language would enjoy this.

Finn lifted his accordion and stepped into the water, feet cold on wet stone. He walked out through the low waves and the others followed until they were all up to their knees. OK, said Finn,

and he took a deep breath
and Aiden took a deep breath
and Martha held out the phone
and Sophie lifted her beater
and Richard put his mouth to his horn
and Mrs.Callaghan pulled open her bellows
and Cora lifted her bow
and the stars shone down
and the green lights shone up
and the flags pulled and pulled in the wind
and all around them in the water,
the water,
the water

was dark and empty and waiting.


I completed this as a Traveling Sisters read. Thank you to Netgalley for a copy of this ARC.
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Reading Progress

July 18, 2018 – Shelved
July 18, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
July 18, 2018 – Shelved as: netgalley
July 18, 2018 – Shelved as: traveling-sisters
July 24, 2018 – Started Reading
August 7, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)

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message 1: by JanB (new)

JanB This sounds very different, terrific review Christina!

Marialyce Nice review, Christina! Great being able to read this with you and the other sisters. 🌟📖

Christina - Traveling Sister Thank you Jan! I definitely went out on a limb with this one as it's not my typical read but I think it was well worth it!

Thank you as well Marialyce! Shout out to you though because your thoughts in the TS discussion really got me to re-evaluate and slow down the read and it definitely made a difference :)

Angela M Christina, I liked this more than you did , but I’m glad you ended up at 4 stars. Good for you for “going out on a limb.” Nice review!

message 5: by Holly (new)

Holly  B Great review Christina!

message 6: by Jaline (new) - added it

Jaline Great review, Christina!

Norma * Traveling Sister Great review, Christina!

message 8: by Celia (new) - added it

Celia Christina, I loved your review. That cover is very interesting as well.
What you see is not always a true reflection of what is below the surface!!

Christina - Traveling Sister Celia wrote: "Christina, I loved your review. That cover is very interesting as well.
What you see is not always a true reflection of what is below the surface!!"

Thank you Celia! I loved the cover too! I think it is an apt choice for this one :)

Angela M wrote: "Christina, I liked this more than you did , but I’m glad you ended up at 4 stars. Good for you for “going out on a limb.” Nice review!"

I read and loved your review Angela - I'm glad this one was such a win for you! I'm quite glad to have read it!

Thank you Holly, Jaline and Norma!

Brenda - Traveling Sister Wonderful review, Christina!

message 11: by Jaidee (new) - added it

Jaidee Very much enjoyed your reflections on this novel :)

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