A wonderfully written novella with well-drawn characters and a deceptively simple premise. I read Homebound by Jodi McClure (@PunkLit) in two sittings on a rainy morning, and was frankly sorry to see the final page.
The downward spiral of John’s life culminates in a terrible motorcycle accident, leaving him bed-ridden and dependent on others for nearly everything. Fresh from divorce, he’s lost his big-city job and been arrested and sued for beating up his wife’s lover, who also stole his best clients — all of which forced him to move back to the small town where he grew up.
Immobilized and sweating through a Georgia summer in his boyhood bedroom, John meets Cloey, a young local woman hired by his parents to help nurse the invalid to health. Unpretentious and pragmatic, Cloey’s simplicity is everything John’s life before the accident wasn’t. On top of that, she has a small mystery on her hands, a trail leading to treasure laid by her grandfather that winds through classic books, and John becomes determined to solve it for her.
I was born and raised in a small (population 6,000) farm town, so I definitely related to the way John’s view of home shifted back and forth between idealized nostalgia — kids playing in the yard across the street — and the harshly unflattering:
It was a world of sparse shacks with peeling paint and rusted metal roofs, rotted wood porches barely holding together above crumbling cement bases. Half the roads were still unpaved and lined with abandoned farm equipment and there were weeds the size of trees trying to choke off anything still living.
— McClure, Jodi (2012-08-08). Homebound (Kindle Locations 1056-1058). Jodi McClure. Kindle Edition.
Oh, yes … I’ve been there, and Ms. McClure’s simple but evocative prose just nails that swirl of emotion, the warm and fuzzy comfort of home suddenly parting like fog to display the cold reality, only to have the fog close in again — because we’d rather have our idealized memories.
It seems like such a simple set-up: put two people together, linked by necessity. They’re very different, except where they’re alike. Give them a common project, see what develops. Such a story could easily be ruined by heavy-handed or unrealistic treatment. Not here, thank goodness. Ms. McClure’s touch is deft and assured, immersing the reader fully as Cloey and John’s story plays out without a hint of dishonesty.
I suppose the primary genre of Homebound would be “romance,” but don’t let that deter you if its not your cup of tea. Great storytelling is always worth checking out, and I highly recommend Homebound.