Sunday 3 January 2021

Review | A Thousand Roads Home by Carmel Harrington

Published by Harper Collins on October 18, 2018

A Thousand Roads Home combined everything I love about a Carmel Harrington novel – heart, soul, and an emotional and thought-provoking story that didn’t leave after the final page was turned.

The book centers around Ruth and Tom. Ruth is a single mother to ten-year-old DJ and we meet Ruth as she is struggling to make ends meet, and soon she and her son are made homeless and in hunt of emergency accommodation. Tom, on the other hand, is used to homelessness. He has been sleeping rough on a park bench for a very long time, along with his beloved dog Bette Davis.

From very early on there are hints as to how and why Ruth and Tom’s lives may meet and I was fascinated by any links there could be between the two characters as we learn more about them. Both characters were interesting and had things about them that they found better left unsaid. Their moving stories were unveiled beautifully and had me thoroughly absorbed in the book.

The story is told in alternating chapters from both Ruth and Tom’s perspective, past and present. Both characters have had experiences in their past that have contributed to the struggles they are facing in the current day and the similarities between Ruth and Tom is highlighted by the way they are both viewed by strangers and passers-by. They are both judged cruelly at times – Tom is homeless and therefore is judged to have a drink problem or a gambling problem, and Ruth’s straight talking means she is taken to be rude as she tends to say what she thinks even if it could have been worded better. She’s shy and doesn’t overshare her feelings, and the people who meet her can take this the wrong way. However, for the reader, it is difficult to miss the kindness she has and I couldn’t help but feel for her and the way she was misunderstood by people through no fault of her own.

Carmel Harrington writes with real honesty. She explores homelessness and the dangers homeless people can face with depth and sincerity. Whilst she does not evade the harsh realities of life without a roof over your head, that didn’t mean the book was lacking the moments of light this author is so good at. There were many beautiful sentiments and moments to put a smile on this readers face, especially within the characters and friendships at the Silver Sands Lodge.

A Thousand Roads Home is a truly touching novel, beautifully written, frank yet enjoyable. A book that is ever hopeful and one that leaves a powerful lasting message.

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