Product Description from Amazon.com
The novel is set on a farm and in a nearby fictional community located in the southern Missouri Ozark hills and near a fictional western branch of the Current River. The story revolves around a family dilemma following the death of their matriarch and the unusual will she left to insure the continuity of the farm intact which has been in her family for over 150 years.
The year is 1987. The varied background and viewpoints of the adult children coming Back to the Homeplace ignite controversy and expose long kept secrets as each family member searches for his or her share of the family legacy. While the older family members stake their claims on land and fortunes, the younger ones search for love and acceptance. Subplots involve AIDS Awareness in 1987 issues and a support group for domestic violence incidents.
At the heart of this family life story is how we do or do not effectively communicate among family members - parents with children, among children and grandchildren.
My take on this book:
Back to the Homeplace is a story of families and the ties that bind them together, and the lengths the matriarchs of the Bevins family went to in order to preserve the Homeplace!
Upon the death of Mildred Bevins, the family was shocked to find the terms of the will that she and her husband Frank had devised fifteen years earlier. Their will stated that four Bevin's children had to live for two years on the homeplace, with each of the children being assigned 80 acres to manage and maintain, and at the end of the two years, if the minimum requirements set forth in the will aren't met then the Homeplace will be donated to the State University. Will the Bevin's children be able to work together and meet the terms of the will, or will they lose it?
Each of the Bevin's siblings have their own set of problems that they bring with them. Bart had given up his job in real estate when his father Frank died, and he had always assumed that the farm would someday be his. Peter has always been a loner, but he has some secrets from his past that will surprise some, and jeopardize the lives of others.Karen and her husband Jason, moved from Arizona to fulfill the terms of the will, while things seem OK on the surface, they have problems back in Arizona that worry Jason. Beverly the youngest seems to really resent being forced to come back home. While her husband Paul and their two children Scott and Heather seem to thrive at the Homeplace, Beverly isn't happy and doesn't mind telling anyone that will listen. Sheila, Paul's daughter from a previous marriage has also come to the Ozarks, she makes poor choices that in the end not only affect her but others that have come in contact with her.
The author does an amazing story of bringing these characters to life, you can easily see why Frank and Mildred wanted to keep the homeplace intact, it had been in Mildred's family since 1833, and was a legacy to be passed down, I think the plan wasn't only to preserve the land, but also to bring the Bevin's children back together. The characters seem very down to earth and real, with problems that we all face, I found it interesting that a few were addicted to Diet Coke, and would make trips to Walmart to purchase it, for me it doesn't get any more real than that!
The descriptions of the birds, landscape and the Homestead in general were so vivid that it is easy to visualize it, and at one point when the author describes a vee of Canadian Geese flying overhead, I could just imagine hearing them honk.
The author opens most of the chapters with a brief bits of actual news from 1987, really taking me back in time, a true trip down memory lane.
A book that gives a true glimpse of how situations can cause some family members to draw together while others pull away. A story with several unexpected developments and a shocking twist near the end left me anxious to read the next book in this series titled The Homeplace Revisited due out in the late spring of 2011.