Title: The Way Home
Author: George Pelecanos
Release Date: May 2009
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Genre: Literary Crime Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Summary: Hidden 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, working, and on the right path at last. Then one day Chris doesn't show up for work-and his father 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.
My brief review: This is not a thriller or a traditional whodunit but a story about a boy growing up, trying to find his way in the world and his place in his family. There is a crime committed in the course of the story but it is more of a vehicle to illustrate several points including that of the role and result of punishment as doled out by the juvenile justice system. Arguably for some it is a deterrence, but for others it is not.
At the heart of this novel is a father son relationship. It's a fractured relationship that was once strong and invigorating tfor father and son. Thomas Flynn and Chris love each other but lost respect for each other as Chris grew into a teenager and they are no longer able to communicate. Growing up is a difficult time in a young person's life. There are a myriad of pressures to contend with from parents, friends, school and society. Chris rebels against the rules, authority and his father's expectations. Poor judgment and stupid decisions made under the guise of being cool eventually land him in Pine Ridge Juvenile Detention. This might end up being one of the best things that happens to Chris. But not his dad. Thomas Flynn is too concerned with what the neighbors will think and too blind-sided by his determination to make Chris into the son he thinks Chris should be. But even after Chris sheds his bad boy image, starts working for his dad and maintains a low profile, Thomas isn't happy. Chris doesn't understand his father and finds it easier to stay away from his family despite wanting to be able to talk to his father. But he's also thinking about starting his own family.
The values and beliefs both Thomas and Chris hold tightly will be tested. They will be forced to reconsider their views of life, each other and human nature. Chris is still young and may be able to build a life he can be proud of that includes his mother and father.