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The Way Home by George Pelecanos

The Way Home (edition 2009)

by George Pelecanos

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3842628,030 (3.62)36
Title:The Way Home
Authors:George Pelecanos
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2009), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:washingtonDC, noir, father-son, crime

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The Way Home by George Pelecanos

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Characters felt real and human. Setting was accurate to the real DC and convincingly detailed. But the plot seemed like several I've seen on TV lately and there were a few moments of preaching on what must be issues of concern to the author. Prefer for the moral to arise organically from the story and not feel like I'm being beaten over the head with it. ( )
  WildMaggie | Nov 28, 2015 |
Chris Flynn has gone of the rails and has to spend time in a juvenile centre. When he is released he goes to work for dads firm laying carpet. When on a job he discovers a bag of money under some floorboards, so what is Chris going to do. Will he take the money or will he walk away.

I liked this book. I found it very easy to read and not too taxing considering it's storyline. The main character Chris is bought up in a decent home and goes wild. His dad is disappointed in him but loves him all the same. I don't think there was enough of the father -son relationship for me in the book. The story for me was more about Chris and how he tries to turn his life around.

The story is a thriller because of the life Chris lived. I felt the two baddies were like those characters from 'Home Alone' and at times were quite laughable and didn't seem real to me. There wad plenty going on in the book to hold my interest till the end.

First time for me with this author, and I have to say I haven't watched ' The Wire' . I would probably read more by this author as I felt it was an ok read. ( )
  tina1969 | Jan 1, 2015 |
I read this book because George Pelecanos is local to me, and, despite my aversion to crime fiction, I thought I should give this well-known author a chance. I must say that my experience reading my first book by Pelecanos was worthwhile. I didn't know what to expect, but what I found in this novel was a story that began with juvenile delinquents in a detention center and later ended with their experiences as adults after their release. The story centered especially on four friends: Chris, Ben, Ali, and Lawrence. What made Chris stand out from the others was that he was the only "White Boy" of this crowd and the only one who came from a fairly affluent background.

What was most fun for me in this novel, and is probably the same for other DC area residents, is all of the name-dropping of streets and other locations in my very own metropolitan area. I laughed out loud each time some of the street names rang familiar. However I laughed most loudly when I just drove across the street (Veirs Mill Road) named by the narrator as I was listening to this book. I got great enjoyment from the author's knowing the DC area so well. Since I had once worked as a visiting nurse in DC and the Maryland suburbs of DC (Pelecanos does not talk about Virginia in this book), I felt almost as if I could jump into the pages and be there with the characters. However, I restrained myself! :)

The book was good, not great. However, it was enjoyable enough of a read that I would not hesitate to pick up another Pelecanos novel. Who knows? Maybe one day, I'll become an avid crime fiction fan. ( )
  SqueakyChu | May 8, 2013 |
Chris Flynn is a middle-class white boy whose life goes off the rails after teenage bravado turns sour and he spends some grim time in Pine Ridge juvenile detention facility. When he’s released he starts working for his father’s carpet installation business and things are smoothing out for Chris until he and his workmate and friend Ben, another former inmate of Pine Ridge, find a bag of money in an empty house. What next?

This beautifully narrated audio book seemed to me to be first and foremost an examination of the impact little decisions have on our lives. At almost every point in the story things could have gone one of two ways for someone but their decisions could not have appeared life-altering at the time. My heart was literally wrenched when Thomas Flynn realised that the things he did, and didn’t, teach his son Chris when the boy was small were reverberating in their lives many years later. I’m always intrigued by books in which the road not travelled plays a significant role.

The other strength of the novel is its flawed but very human characters. Almost all of them are men of varying backgrounds, race and criminal status and as an exploration of what it means to be a man in urban America the book is fascinating. There were multiple occasions where my first reaction to an event or an action taken by one of the characters was to mentally scoff ‘as if’ before it would dawn on me that I was approaching things from the perspective of a carefree Australian woman whose only time in prison has been a couple of hours on a guided tour of Alcatraz while a boat waited to spirit me away to a seafood dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf. This is a point of view which shares nothing with the world seen through the eyes of the characters in this book. Many of the reviews and comments I’ve seen about the book and Pelecanos’ writing in general mention his undoubted grasp of the male psyche but I found the look into the American state of mind, a thing equally foreign to me, just as compelling.

I wasn’t as taken with all of the writing. While there were some truly stunning passages, especially those describing the surroundings of and experiences at Pine Ridge, there’s also a heck of a lot of unnecessary detail for a relatively short book. It’s difficult to reference an audio book but an example of the kind of thing I mean is the point where Ben and Chris are getting ready to install a carpet and the narrative went something like “they untied the red flag from the roll of carpet, then they took the carpet roll from the van and took it to the porch, then they went back for the roll of padding and took that to the porch”. Yawn.

I also had a bit of a gripe with The Message (capitalisation deliberate). Yes Pelecanos’ politics concerning young offenders and the way society deals with issues such as drug use is the opposite of most mainstream commentators but he’s no less ‘preachy’ about the subject than the average radio shock jock. The descriptions of the facilities and events at Pine Ridge demonstrated that locking kids up in awful surroundings and treating them like dirt is, at the very least, counter productive. I didn’t need to also be bludgeoned over the head with additional academic-style lectures about improving the system inserted clumsily into the narrative. I’m no less annoyed at being preached at by people whose views I concur with than those whose opinions make my stomach turn.

Overall though The Way Home was a reading experience that took me outside my comfort zone and my enjoyment of it, despite being confronted several times by my own subtle prejudices and pre-conceived ideas, reminds me that I should do this much more often. I’d recommend the book fairly universally but especially to those who like character-driven narratives and anyone who is interested at all in the things that can go wrong, and right, between a father and his son. This was my first novel by Pelecanos and I’m keen to read more. ( )
  bsquaredinoz | Mar 31, 2013 |
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For my father, Pete Pelecanos
First words
No one could say why it was called Pine Ridge.
Last night I dreamed that I was a child
out where the pines grow wild and tall.
I was trying to make it home through the forest
before the darkness falls

- Bruce Springsteen, 'My father's House'
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Beneath the floorboards in a house he's remodeling, Christopher Flynn discovers something very tempting--and troubling. Summoning every bit of maturity and every lesson he's learned the hard way, Chris leaves what he found where he found it and tells his job partner to forget it, too. Knowing trouble when he sees it--and walking the other way--is a habit Chris is still learning.

Chris's father, Thomas Flynn, runs the family business where Chris and his friends have found work. Thomas is just getting comfortable with the idea that his son is grown, and on the right path at last. Then one day Chris doesn't show up for work--and his fatner knows deep in his bones that danger has found him. Although he wishes it weren't so, he also knows that no parent can protect a child from all the world's evils. Sometimes you have to let them find their own way home.

The Way Home is the most powerful novel yet from the electrifying George Pelecanos, whose work has been compared to that of Dennis Lehane and Richard Price, writers "who push the boundaries of crime writing into literary territory" (New York Times). As profound and engrossing as Pelecano's work as a writer and producer on The Wire, The Way Home is an unforgettable novel of fathers' hopes and sons' ambitions, of love, drive, and forgiveness. [from the jacket]
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Christopher Flynn is trying to get it right. After years of trouble and rebellion that enraged his father and nearly cost him his life, he has a steady job in his father's company, he's seriously dating a woman he respects, and, aside from the distrust that lingers in his father's eyes, his mistakes are firmly in the past. One day on the job, Chris and his partner come across a temptation almost too big to resist. Chris does the right thing, but old habits and instincts rise to the surface, threatening this new-found stability with sudden treachery and violence. With his father and his most trusted friends, he takes one last chance to blast past the demons trying to pull him back. Like Richard Price or William Kennedy, Pelecanos pushes his characters to the extremes, their redemption that much sweeter because it is so hard fought. Pelecanos has long been celebrated for his unerring ability to portray the conflicts men feel as they search and struggle for power and love in a world that is often harsh and unforgiving but can ultimately be filled with beauty.… (more)

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