With her best-selling debut novel, Broken for You, Stephanie Kallos earned comparisons to John Irving, Anne Tyler, Margaret Atwood, and Carol Shields, establishing her as a writer of uncommon wisdom and soulfulness (Sue Monk Kidd).
Sing Them Home is a deeply moving portrait of three grown siblings who have lived in the shadow of unresolved grief since their mothers mysterious disappearance when they were children. Everyone in Emlyn Springs, Nebraska, knows the story of Hope Jones, the physicians wife whose big dreams for their tiny town were lost along with her in the tornado of 1978. For Hopes three young children, the stability of life with their distant, preoccupied father, and with Viney, their mothers spitfire best friend, is no match for their mothers absence. Larken, the eldest, is an art history professor who seeks in food an answer to a less tangible hunger; Gaelan, the only son, is a telegenic weatherman who devotes his life to predicting the unpredictable and whose profession, and all too much more, depend on his sculpted frame and ready smile; and Bonnie, the baby of the family is a self-proclaimed archivist who combs the roadsides for clues to her mothers legacy, and permission to move on.
When, decades after their mothers disappearance, they are summoned home after their fathers sudden death, they are forced to revisit the childhood tragedy at the center of their lives. With breathtaking lyricism, wisdom, and humor, Stephanie Kallos explores the consequences of protecting the ones we love.
Sing Them Home is a magnificent tapestry of lives connected and undone by tragedy, lives poisedunbeknownst to the characters themselvesfor redemption.
I am singing praises for Sing Them Home, a delightful read. It has what any good musical and literary composition should have—a unique melody with harmony, tempo, lyrical style, rhythm, lulls and crescendos building to a stunning climax. It also has characters to cheer for in spite of all their foibles. Perhaps that is why it is so easy to like them.
Who could not sympathize immediately with three young children, ages 7-14, whose mother was swept away in a Nebraska tornado never to be found. Not a trace, not even of the wheelchair that encased her body ridden with multiple sclerosis. Sing Them Home could be a depressing story, but instead I found myself smiling and laughing quite a bit as Stephanie Kallos depicts, with humor and sensitivity, life in Emlyn Springs, Nebraska, a fictional town thirty miles from Lincoln. (Reviewed by Vy Armour).
People - Michelle Green
With empathy and wit, Kallos weaves together the stories of the living and the dead, creating a world in which love trumps loss and faith can summon redemption. The result is a magical novel that even cynics will close with a smile (3 out of 4 stars)
Entertainment Weekly - Karen Valby
Fans of Ann Patchett and Haven Kimmel should dive onto the sofa one wintry weekend with Stephanie Kallos's wonderfully transportive second novel, Sing Them Home...[A] keenly empathetic description of life in ....Emlyn Springs, one of those all-too-rare small towns in literature, rich in personality but mercifully free of broad, condescending cliche....As the novel floats back and forth from past to present, Kallos patiently reveals the hurt and longing that's pounding beneath the surface...[and] the ending may leave you feeling so wistful for these strange, sad people that you find yourself fantasizing about a trip to Nebraska. Rated A-
Boston Globe - Diane White Sing Them Home constantly surprises, changing voices, viewpoints, and tempos, mixing humor and pathos, and introducing a big cast of vividly portrayed characters, major and minor. Readers who admired Kallos's first novel, Broken for You, will likely embrace Sing Them Home, and it will embrace them in return. It's that sort of book.
Booklist Sing Them Home ushers us into small-town life, with all its distinctive cultural nuances, eccentric personalities, and homegrown secrets. With the same beauty and lyricism of her first novel, Broken for You, Kallos stitches together a colorful patchwork of memories and images, creating a rich narrative fabric that develops and changes as it passes through each character's hands.
Starred Review. This novel will find a welcome audience in anyone who has experienced grief, struggled with family ties or, most importantly, appreciates blossoming talent.
Starred Review. Kallos doesn't rip her characters apart, just tenderly shows us their failings as they stumble, in a realistic and satisfying manner, toward better selves. Highly recommended.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Katherine Yuhas Add This to Your Must Read List I had such a wonderful time reading this book. It is a real treat to sink into the world of Emlyn Springs, Nebraska and the characters who live there. The story of the lives of the adult Jones children whose mother disappeared in a tornado many... Read More
The Gymanfa Ganu In Sing Them Home, the town of Emlyn
Springs celebrates an annual Gymanfa Ganu, also
known as Cymanfa Ganu (pronounced
cuh-MAN-va GA-nee), which is a Welsh festival of
sacred hymns sung with four part harmony by a
congregation, usually under the direction of a
The tradition grew out of the temperance movement in
mid-nineteenth century Wales when choral societies were founded as one solution to the
grave problem of drinking. Because of the unsanitary
conditions in the rapidly-growing housing
developments, water was unsafe to drink and beer
(sterilized by the fermentation process) was drunk
in prodigious quantities. On Christmas Day 1837, a
temperance procession marched through the streets of Dowlais, joined by choirs from neighboring towns.
Inspired by the success of the day's events, choral
singing of the beautiful, stirring hymns went...
Rebecca, a fifty-three-year-old grandmother, is caught unawares by the question of who she really is. How she answers it--how she tries to recover her girlhood self, that dignified grownup she had once been--is the story told in this beguiling, funny, and deeply moving novel.
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