The coming of age story of an award-winning translator, Homesick is about learning to love language in its many forms, healing through words and the promises and perils of empathy and sisterhood.
Sisters Amy and Zoe grow up in Oklahoma where they are homeschooled for an unexpected reason: Zoe suffers from debilitating and mysterious seizures, spending her childhood in hospitals as she undergoes surgeries. Meanwhile, Amy flourishes intellectually, showing an innate ability to glean a world beyond the troubles in her home life, exploring that world through languages first. Amy’s first love appears in the form of her Russian tutor Sasha, but when she enters university at the age of 15 her life changes drastically and with tragic results.
My thoughts: for a slim volume this book packs a heavy emotional punch. Amy and Zoe live in their own world, home schooled after Zoe is diagnosed, and it’s always just the two of them. But when Amy shows incredible intelligence and wins a scholarship to university at 15, everything changes.
Going away to uni was tough at almost 19, no naive, sheltered 15 year old is prepared for that, and Amy has almost no experience in the world to draw on. She and her sister created their secret lives together, she invented made up languages and they seemingly had no friends outside each other. Nothing has prepared her to cope with the loneliness and turmoil of being around older students, of being a celebrity of sorts and of being away from home.
Her reaction to the stresses and sadness of her home life – her sister’s illness, her parents’ unhappiness, is perhaps expected in some ways. The final section, detailing her travels as she tries to come to terms with her experiences is bittersweet. Amy has survived and some would say thrived, but part of her is forever altered.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.