"Going Home Again" by Dennis Bock
Charlie Bellerose has returned to Canada, his marriage failed and his daughter remaining in Spain with her mother. Upon his return he reunites with his brother Nate, with whom he has had a rather contentious relationship. The past is the past and as both try to recover from failed marriages, they find themselves becoming a family again.
But a chance encounter with Charlie’s first love Holly brings his past back to the forefront as he remembers his college days in Montreal and the death of his best friend Miles. While Charlie tries to deal with these memories, his job, and remaining a part of his daughter’s life, Nate finds himself caught up in a bit of trouble, falling for Holly’s sixteen-year-old daughter and bumping heads with his ex-wife and her new partner. But neither expects what happens next.
Going Home Again by Dennis Bock is a novel about love, divorce, sibling rivalry, parenting, and mid-life crises. In its pages are lives that are recognizable to most of us, it’s the everyday details of life and the troubles that come that this book is full of.
I liked the flow of Bock’s writing in this book, it was easy to read through, I enjoyed the way the past was brought into the present and how it all played out. Charlie was a character I could enjoy and feel for, which is a big contrast to how I felt for his brother Nate. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to dislike him or if Bock is presenting him as a person who is flawed but we should feel sympathy for. All I know is I just couldn’t find anything in him that I could appreciate and I didn’t care too much for his parts of the story, even if they did make up a bit of the book.
This was an interesting read for me. I liked the premise and Charlie’s memories of the past were wonderful to read. I was very interested in his life in Montreal, how he fell in love with Holly, and his life in Spain. As well, when he first returned to Canada, I was eager to see how it played out. But then it dropped off from there for me. The parts set in the present just didn’t grab me, they felt a little reaching.
Maybe for me it’s the curse of reading a book that has been nominated, and short-listed, for a major literary award. I’m expecting big things out of the novel, especially given the fact that books I have already read and enjoyed did not make the shortlist. And those big things just didn’t come for me. Is it the fault of the novel or my expectations? Probably me, but no matter what, the book I was expecting just did not materialize. This is a three star book for me, good but not great.