Home in the Morning by Mary Glickman is the kind of book that I am drawn to. It’s the story of a young Jewish man, Jackson Sassaport, growing up in the South. It’s the story of his wife, Stella, a young Jewish woman who enters Jackson’s Southern life. And it’s the story of Katherine Marie, a young Black woman growing up in the South. Some of my favorite elements are explored in this novel — the complexity of human relationships, time and its bearing on forgiveness, the South, the US’s history of racism — all converged in one place. This is the story of Jackson’s relationship with Stella and his relationship with Katherine Marie, and the relationship the two women forge with one another. The publisher describes at as such: “A powerful debut from a new literary talent, this novel tells the story of a Jewish family confronting the tumult of the 1960s—and the secrets that bind its members together.”
There are, indeed, many secrets in this novel, so there is much explore when it comes to these things hidden, and Glickman does it well. Her writing is fresh and, while it can be difficult to get through in some spots, it’s a fantastic story she’s woven, using characters I liked.
This is Glickman’s seventh novel, but the just the first she’s had published, and I am honestly surprised by this. I really thought this novel was excellent. I liked the characters and thought they were real enough (although there were a few times where I wanted to smack Jackson and Stella in their heads!), and there were several moments where I was so caught up in the story and some of the injustices that I was left angry and breathless. So when I was reading the author information at the end of the ebook I received, I was pretty surprised to find that she had only published this one novel. I would be very interested in reading her other works, and I hope that the success of this novel will allow her to publish other works.
One thing that I found really unique about this novel was the way it presented dialogue — with no quotation marks. I’ve read several reviews that said this was bothersome, but I found it to be a really unique part of the story, and I appreciated that it made me slow down while I was reading in order to focus on the content of the story. It’s something that others might not find aesthetically pleasing but it was a very successful tool for me.
My biggest bone to pick with this novel (and really, it’s my only) is the WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED ending. I am a huge fan and supporter of endings that don’t tie up loosely. I like it (well, I use the term “like” very loosely in this context!) when people die in books. I love the less-than-perfect when it happens. But the ending of this book? No. Just no. Not only does it not tie up, neatly or at all, but it fails to read as an ending. It feels like a chapter or two should follow, or that the author just ran out of steam. That really ruffled my feathers when I got there. Truthfully, I was more irritated by the random photos of Glickman’s family at the end of the book than I was amused by them. I JUST WANTED MORE WORDS.
Crappy ending aside, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who is looking for an intriguing look at the South during its more blatantly racist days. It’s not your typical novel that deals with a white, Christian family in the South.
Rating: 8.5/10 (those damn endings — they ruin otherwise excellent novels!)
I received this book in exchange for a review from NetGalley. I was not asked to make a positive review, only an honest one.