Homecoming is the first book of a seven-book series, the Tillerman Cycle written by Cynthia Voigt. It follows the story of four brave children, the Tillermans as they find their way to a home and a better life, against all odds.
“Dicey felt a great weight settle on her shoulders. She tried to shrug it off, but it wouldn’t move.”
Review by Pratyasha
The Tillerman children- Dicey, James, Sammy and Maybeth find themselves on a family road trip to meet a distant relative at Bridgeport one fine summer afternoon. Their mother, who had been acting strange all summer, gets down at a shopping mall in Connecticut and doesn’t return. Dicey, the eldest of the four, is left with an address and slowly decreasing rations as the one in charge. She makes a decision- they are going to find their Great-Aunt Cilia because that’s what their mother wanted them to do.
They set off on foot, make it through pain – both physical and emotional, and finally arrive in Bridgeport; only to know that Aunt Cilla is no more and her daughter, Eunice does not want to take up their burden. Dicey, always the responsible one, has another tough choice to make. She decides to go looking for their estranged grandmother who lives in Maryland. But is she alive, and if she is, will she take them in? The children must walk across the country before they can find out.
“There could be no home for the Tillermans. Home free- Dicey would settle for a place to stay. Stay free.”
The sense of belonging and security plays a big role throughout the story. The children are not just looking for a home, they are seeking family, love and acceptance. The author deals with loneliness, mental illness and recovery in a simple, beautiful way. The story is almost part travelogue, with picturesque descriptions of the sea, and the children’s journey through desolate lands and big cities alike. It starts as a tale of abandonment and helplessness but grows into a poignant journey of strength and self-discovery.
The narration takes a dark turn in the middle of the book, focusing mostly on mental health. The author, however, elegantly rounds it up by the end, replacing the grey thoughts of the characters with hope for a better future.
“Nothing matters. There’s nothing you can count on-except the speed of light. And dying,” James said. “Well that may be true but it’s not a big enough truth to contain me. I plan to be a man when I get through. Not only a man, I plan to be a good man.”
Homecoming is generally termed as a young-adult novel, but it is a good read for all ages. Readers find themselves relating to the struggles of the children, from Dicey who is forced to grow up too soon, to quiet Maybeth who is often mistaken as dumb in spite of being quite smart. Their desperate, yet brave perseverance lingers in the mind of readers for a long time.