The Distance Home: Book summary and reviews of The Distance Home by Paula Saunders

The Distance Home

by Paula Saunders

The Distance Home by Paula Saunders X
The Distance Home by Paula Saunders
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published in USA  Aug 2018
    304 pages
    Genre: Novels

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

A "riveting family saga" (Mary Karr), set in the American West, about sibling rivalry, dark secrets, and a young girl's struggle with freedom and artistic desire.

In the years after World War II, the bleak yet beautiful plains of South Dakota still embody all the contradictions - the ruggedness and the promise - of the old frontier. This is a place where you can eat strawberries from wild vines, where lightning reveals a boundless horizon, where descendants of white settlers and native Indians continue to collide, and where, for most, there are limited options.

René shares a home, a family, and a passion for dance with her older brother, Leon. Yet for all they have in common, their lives are on remarkably different paths. In contrast to René, a born spitfire, Leon is a gentle soul. The only boy in their ballet class, Leon silently endures often brutal teasing. Meanwhile, René excels at everything she touches, basking in the delighted gaze of their father, whom Leon seems to disappoint no matter how hard he tries.

As the years pass, René and Leon's parents fight with increasing frequency - and ferocity. Their father - a cattle broker - spends more time on the road, his sporadic homecomings both yearned for and dreaded by the children. And as René and Leon grow up, they grow apart. They grasp whatever they can to stay afloat - a word of praise, a grandmother's outstretched hand, the seductive attention of a stranger - as René works to save herself, crossing the border into a larger, more hopeful world, while Leon embarks on a path of despair and self-destruction.

Tender, searing, and unforgettable, The Distance Home is a profoundly American story spanning decades - a tale of haves and have-nots, of how our ideas of winning and losing, success and failure, lead us inevitably into various problems with empathy and caring for one another. It's a portrait of beauty and brutality in which the author's compassionate narration allows us to sympathize, in turn, with everyone involved.

Read a Sample

Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page.
(If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it)

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. An exquisite, searing portrait of family and of people coping with whatever life throws at them while trying to keep close to one another." - Booklist

"Penetrating and insightful...This debut wonderfully depicts the entire lifespan of a singular family." - Publishers Weekly

"Drawing on Saunders's own family history, this debut novel captures the underlying turmoil of a dysfunctional family at war with themselves while hiding secrets from their past. The author's compassion for her characters shines through in this honest story." - Library Journal

"A grim, haunting parable of split child-rearing in which the dark blots out much of the light." - Kirkus

"A family's story - its past, its present, and (most surprising) its future - traces the intricate, often subterranean lines that connect damage to redemption, creation to dissolution, and the everyday to the eternal, just to name several of its moving and startling aspects." - Michael Cunningham

The Distance Home is a bracing and beautiful novel about a fierce struggle for love and understanding in a South Dakota family, and about aspiration (both thwarted and encouraged) in an unforgiving place. Read it - it will break your heart and open it up." - Maile Meloy, author of Do Not Become Alarmed

"The Distance Home is a deeply involving portrait of the American postwar family: its promises and disruptions - surrounded by a rich, shimmering, sensuous South Dakota landscape." - Jennifer Egan

"Set in the isolation of South Dakota prairie towns and then the provincialism of Rapid City, The Distance Home is an exemplary story of what hardworking people suffered in Middle America in the late twentieth century while striving to achieve dreams. This soul-searching first novel offers everywhere that most mysterious and essential of artistic achievements: heart." - Douglas Unger, author of Leaving the Land and Voices from Silence

"An extraordinary debut. Paula Saunders writes beautiful, evocative prose that engages you in every aspect of this world. The Distance Home is heartbreaking and full of compassion while also managing to be exacting, precise, and truthful." - Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others and Stone Arabia

The information about The Distance Home shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Paula Saunders

Paula Saunders grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota. She danced as an apprentice with the Harkness Ballet in New York City under the direction of David Howard. She is a graduate of Barnard College, as well as the Syracuse University creative writing program, and was awarded a post-graduate Albert Schweitzer Fellowship in the Humanities at the State University of New York at Albany, under then-Schweitzer chair Toni Morrison. She lives in California with her husband. They have two grown daughters.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more novels...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Let It Bang
    Let It Bang
    by RJ Young
    Every interracial love story is an exercise in complications. R.J. Young and Lizzie Stafford's ...
  • Book Jacket: A Spark of Light
    A Spark of Light
    by Jodi Picoult
    The central premise of A Spark of Light involves a gunman holding hostages within the confines of a ...
  • Book Jacket: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
    An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
    by Hank Green
    As one half of the extremely popular YouTube duo "Vlogbrothers" (the other half being his brother ...
  • Book Jacket: Waiting for Eden
    Waiting for Eden
    by Elliot Ackerman
    Elliot Ackerman's latest novel, Waiting for Eden, follows Marine Eden Malcom as his death ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Unsheltered
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Kinship of Secrets
    by Eugenia Kim

    Two sisters grow up bound by family but separated by war; inspired by a true story.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    A Ladder to the Sky
    by John Boyne

    A seductive, unputdownable psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I Ain't O U T F L S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.