Call Me Home by Megan Kruse

Amy married Gary in secret when she was barely out of high school, and let him take her from the heat of Texas to the wet ofcall me home rural Washington.  Almost nineteen years later, two kids have filled the years, and Gary has become a loose cannon of an abuser.

Leaving seems easy at first, but Gary always finds her and the kids, holed up in some motel room, never far enough away.  Their last getaway seems foolproof, until her eighteen-year-old son Jackson returns home and tells his father where his mother and younger sister Lydia are.

Amy and daughter are gone again soon after, without Jackson, and this time for good. Guilt-ridden, Jackson leaves his father as well, soon to be hustling in Portland, occasionally within the good graces of a well-off real estate developer.  It’s an uneasy life that Jackson tires of, enough to accept a job with a construction crew in Idaho.  It is in this situation that he finds his heart stolen.

Call Me Home is a three-part story – Jackson’s, his mother’s, and Lydia’s.  It’s three tales of fear – Amy’s dread that Gary will find them despite moving half a country away, Lydia’s conflicted visions and memories of her father, and Jackson’s dread of being outed as gay in the company of construction workers while falling in love with one of them.  There’s lots of time switching during the narrative; luckily, each chapter title gives the year, so you know when a character is backtracking.

This is Megan Kruse’s first novel.  She has received previous accolades for her short fiction, including Pushcart Prize nominations.  She writes a rough story, but writes it well, and I would say, writes it necessarily.  I wonder what she’ll do next.

It doesn’t hurt to have Elizabeth Gilbert write the introduction, but Call Me Home holds its own without it.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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