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This Is the Place: Women Writing About Home

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Home is a loaded word, a complex idea: it's a place that can be comforting, difficult, nourishing, war-torn, or political. In this breathtaking, thought-provoking collection, 30 women writers explore the theme in personal essays about neighbors, marriage, kids, sentimental objects, homelessness, domestic violence, solitude, immigration, gentrification, geography, and more. Home is a loaded word, a complex idea: it's a place that can be comforting, difficult, nourishing, war-torn, or political. In this breathtaking, thought-provoking collection, 30 women writers explore the theme in personal essays about neighbors, marriage, kids, sentimental objects, homelessness, domestic violence, solitude, immigration, gentrification, geography, and more. Contributors--including Amanda Petrusich, Naomi Jackson, Jane Wong, and Jennifer Finney Boylan--lend a diverse range of voices to this subject that remains at the core of our national conversations. What makes a home? What do equality, safety, and politics have to do with it? And why is it so important to us to feel like we belong? Engaging, insightful, and full of hope, This is the Place will make you laugh, cry, and think hard about home, wherever you may find it. Here / Kate Lebo -- Away from dangerous things / Desiree Cooper -- A family business / Jane Wong -- Freeing Thanksgiving from my family / Jennifer Finney Boylan -- Broken home / Debra Gwartney -- On moving home / Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum -- Between my teeth / Naomi Jackson -- Allá en la fuente / Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas -- Home in four acts / Akiko Busch -- Plane crash theory / Dani Shapiro -- Mother tongue / Jennifer De Leon -- The privilege button / Maya Jewell Zeller -- Some notes on our cyclical nature / Sarah Viren -- Subjunctive / Naima Coster -- Cold, comfort / Miranda Weiss -- Vesica piscis / Leigh Newman -- The explorer / Tara Conklin -- Annotating the first page of the first Navajo-English dictionary / Danielle Geller -- The stars remain / Claudia Castro Luna -- The leaving season / Kelly McMasters -- In the kitchen / Margot Kahn -- Of Pallu and Pottu / Hasanthika Sirisena -- Nuclear family / Amanda Petrusich -- Keeping my fossil fuel in the ground / Terry Tempest Williams -- Sea home / KaiLea Wallin -- Size matters / Sonya Chung -- The sound of horse teeth on hay in the snow / Pam Houston -- Undergraduate admissions essay draft / Elissa Washuta -- Inheritance / Elisabeth Eaves -- We carried ourselves like villagers / Catina Bacote


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Home is a loaded word, a complex idea: it's a place that can be comforting, difficult, nourishing, war-torn, or political. In this breathtaking, thought-provoking collection, 30 women writers explore the theme in personal essays about neighbors, marriage, kids, sentimental objects, homelessness, domestic violence, solitude, immigration, gentrification, geography, and more. Home is a loaded word, a complex idea: it's a place that can be comforting, difficult, nourishing, war-torn, or political. In this breathtaking, thought-provoking collection, 30 women writers explore the theme in personal essays about neighbors, marriage, kids, sentimental objects, homelessness, domestic violence, solitude, immigration, gentrification, geography, and more. Contributors--including Amanda Petrusich, Naomi Jackson, Jane Wong, and Jennifer Finney Boylan--lend a diverse range of voices to this subject that remains at the core of our national conversations. What makes a home? What do equality, safety, and politics have to do with it? And why is it so important to us to feel like we belong? Engaging, insightful, and full of hope, This is the Place will make you laugh, cry, and think hard about home, wherever you may find it. Here / Kate Lebo -- Away from dangerous things / Desiree Cooper -- A family business / Jane Wong -- Freeing Thanksgiving from my family / Jennifer Finney Boylan -- Broken home / Debra Gwartney -- On moving home / Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum -- Between my teeth / Naomi Jackson -- Allá en la fuente / Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas -- Home in four acts / Akiko Busch -- Plane crash theory / Dani Shapiro -- Mother tongue / Jennifer De Leon -- The privilege button / Maya Jewell Zeller -- Some notes on our cyclical nature / Sarah Viren -- Subjunctive / Naima Coster -- Cold, comfort / Miranda Weiss -- Vesica piscis / Leigh Newman -- The explorer / Tara Conklin -- Annotating the first page of the first Navajo-English dictionary / Danielle Geller -- The stars remain / Claudia Castro Luna -- The leaving season / Kelly McMasters -- In the kitchen / Margot Kahn -- Of Pallu and Pottu / Hasanthika Sirisena -- Nuclear family / Amanda Petrusich -- Keeping my fossil fuel in the ground / Terry Tempest Williams -- Sea home / KaiLea Wallin -- Size matters / Sonya Chung -- The sound of horse teeth on hay in the snow / Pam Houston -- Undergraduate admissions essay draft / Elissa Washuta -- Inheritance / Elisabeth Eaves -- We carried ourselves like villagers / Catina Bacote

30 review for This Is the Place: Women Writing About Home

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    This is an enjoyable collection of essays on what "home" means. There's a lot of diversity in the perspectives and approaches to the topic. My favorite quote comes from the essay by Akiko Busch titled "Home in Four Acts": "And I realized, too, this is how things so often exit our lives. We beg for them to be gone, have fantasies of that empty space and how we will put that to use. And then when it finally happens, neither the eye nor brain can quite fathom the absence. It takes a moment or two to This is an enjoyable collection of essays on what "home" means. There's a lot of diversity in the perspectives and approaches to the topic. My favorite quote comes from the essay by Akiko Busch titled "Home in Four Acts": "And I realized, too, this is how things so often exit our lives. We beg for them to be gone, have fantasies of that empty space and how we will put that to use. And then when it finally happens, neither the eye nor brain can quite fathom the absence. It takes a moment or two to register the empty space. And I can't say now which is more important, acquiring things or getting rid of them. I know that comfort and how we furnish a room has something to do with how objects come into our lives. But I am certain that the way things leave us matters just as much."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    I found this to be a pretty mixed bag. Some of the essays were excellent and beautiful. “Away from Dangerous Thins” by Desiree Cooper is brilliant, and the description at the heart of the essay entitled “Here” (by Kate Lebo) is absolutely beautiful. Danielle Geller’s essay is the best one in the collection. Some of the essays aren’t so much bad as there isn’t anything much to

  3. 5 out of 5

    Holly R W

    As in most short story collections, I liked some stories better than others. The story that most moved me was "Vesica Piscis" by Leigh Newman. She grew up in rural Alaska and ended up in NYC as an adult. Even though she has a well-established life in NYC with her husband, it just doesn't feel like home. There's too much concrete, congestion and noise. Without giving it much thought, she and an elderly, Italian neighbor start gardening in their small back yards, practically side by side. He is il As in most short story collections, I liked some stories better than others. The story that most moved me was "Vesica Piscis" by Leigh Newman. She grew up in rural Alaska and ended up in NYC as an adult. Even though she has a well-established life in NYC with her husband, it just doesn't feel like home. There's too much concrete, congestion and noise. Without giving it much thought, she and an elderly, Italian neighbor start gardening in their small back yards, practically side by side. He is ill with cancer and they don't have much in common. What they do share is their determination to transform their bits of yards into something each recognizes from their childhood homes - his in Italy and hers in the wilds of Alaska. In so doing, they create both bountiful gardens and a bond with each other. They become friends. And the author feels more at home.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Campbell

    Smart people telling stories short enough to pander to my summer attention span. All lovely writing put me in a zen trance (but also did amanda petrusich really title her story about living near a nuclear plant “nuclear family” love it tho) -1 star bc a dog died with absolutely no warning

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Sie

    Many 5 star stories but also a more than necessary number of 2 star stories written by whiny white women. Home is a weird thing!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Similar to the experience of many other reviewers, I loved some of the essays in this book and was bored by others. There’s some beautiful writing, like this line in Kate Leno’s story ‘Here’ — “If every time I walked the kitchen I left a trail of silk like a spider, I could fall asleep between the stove and the fridge in a homespun hammock.”

  7. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    In addition to Extra Yarn, my dear friend Patty gave me this collection of essays about how women feel about where they live. My favorite story is "On Moving Home," by Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum, in which she describes the experiences of living with her parents and just down the road from them. I would like to read more of Lunstrum's writing. The writers told stories that were very diverse in terms of culture, family reactions, and marital relationships. As I read this book, I thought a lot about t In addition to Extra Yarn, my dear friend Patty gave me this collection of essays about how women feel about where they live. My favorite story is "On Moving Home," by Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum, in which she describes the experiences of living with her parents and just down the road from them. I would like to read more of Lunstrum's writing. The writers told stories that were very diverse in terms of culture, family reactions, and marital relationships. As I read this book, I thought a lot about the places where I have lived. In 1974, we moved from Virginia to the Boston area for what was planned as a year's stay. However, we had two more children, my husband and I both returned to school, and we began a long love affair with Cape Cod, where we now live full-time. This was an excellent book!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This is a very nice complication of essays, with nice writing by diverse authors. But the editors need to realize it is possible to make a home without children. A handful of stories were about adulting without kids, but the emphasis was on motherhood.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marietje

    It was interesting to see how differently each women understood the word "home". Since I liked some essays and was bored with others I give the book three stars. It was interesting to see how differently each women understood the word "home". Since I liked some essays and was bored with others I give the book three stars.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Kokochak

    "Home" means something different to everybody. Its meaning can differ based on experience, heritage, history, place, or simply a feeling. And "home" is deeply personal, no matter what the definition. This collection of essays captured a great snapshot of all the different meanings "home" can take on. Notably missing (I think): a story about home in the Midwest and the South. A few of my favorite excerpts: "Home is culture, tradition, and memory - not mortar." - Desiree Cooper "Home, I've discovere "Home" means something different to everybody. Its meaning can differ based on experience, heritage, history, place, or simply a feeling. And "home" is deeply personal, no matter what the definition. This collection of essays captured a great snapshot of all the different meanings "home" can take on. Notably missing (I think): a story about home in the Midwest and the South. A few of my favorite excerpts: "Home is culture, tradition, and memory - not mortar." - Desiree Cooper "Home, I've discovered, is not something that can be made anywhere; for me, at least, it is a definite and fixed point, a holy center, and I am more myself here in that center than I could be anywhere else in the world." - Kirsten S. Lunstrum (on moving home with/near your parents) "Home is the language you are loved in." -Naomi Jackson "..love, I suppose, is the single prerequisite for feeling at home. You must love your home for it to be a home. You might also hate it, resent it, fear it, or fear leaving it at certain low points. But you also, always, love it." - Leigh Newman "I learned that my home is a body: it lives by regeneration, turning over its every cell until it is both completely new and completely recognizable. A creature in flux, I belonged there." - Elissa Washuta

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pat Mills

    This is a great book. Loved reading it slowly. A Comfort. A training ground for empathy. This book is both a treasure and a treasure trove of authors you will want to read more of, soon. Clarity, emotion, memory, glimpses into another time and place or another's personal space. Lifetimes away from your own personal experience but still carrying that common thread of home and all that that may mean. The sea, A mountain horse farm, A family holiday home in Mexico deliberately not passed on...space This is a great book. Loved reading it slowly. A Comfort. A training ground for empathy. This book is both a treasure and a treasure trove of authors you will want to read more of, soon. Clarity, emotion, memory, glimpses into another time and place or another's personal space. Lifetimes away from your own personal experience but still carrying that common thread of home and all that that may mean. The sea, A mountain horse farm, A family holiday home in Mexico deliberately not passed on...spaces I have not been physically but that I have now seen in my mind's eye. This is a well written book, worth giving and owning and sharing. It is a quiet book that sneaks up on you with its greatness. I loved reading it and turned to it with a troubled heart many times, seeking and finding peace in its pages. Perspective is a great teacher. This is one library book I will buy, knowing I will want to read it again soon. It deserves contemplation and rereading. A rare find.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Excellent collection of essays - very thought provoking, sometimes moving, and there are only two in there that provoked the millennial privilege allergy - and I believe in both cases the authors acknowledged their privileges. What was even better was the diversity represented across age, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Granted the book is very US-centric and since all the authors are professional writers, there's a certain level of middle class intellegensia at play. However, where they are Excellent collection of essays - very thought provoking, sometimes moving, and there are only two in there that provoked the millennial privilege allergy - and I believe in both cases the authors acknowledged their privileges. What was even better was the diversity represented across age, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Granted the book is very US-centric and since all the authors are professional writers, there's a certain level of middle class intellegensia at play. However, where they are NOW does not tell the whole story of where they started or what they considered home, and often these women's life experiences are equal parts educational and inspiring. There's something vaguely melancholy but also soothing about this book, kind of like a self-help book but without the trite cliches and less moralizing. Some of the writing style are quite fun to read, as well.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    Some books are just properly timed. I enjoyed so many of these essays. Which is to say that at this point in life, I was happy spending time in the kitchens and gardens and cars and nurseries and boats and barns and family businesses of a whole bunch of people. I have so many favorites--"Alla En La Fuente" jumps immediately to mind, which, like "Undergraduate Admissions Essay Draft" and "Annotating the First Page of the First Navajo-English Dictionary," shakes up the earnest essay forms to the b Some books are just properly timed. I enjoyed so many of these essays. Which is to say that at this point in life, I was happy spending time in the kitchens and gardens and cars and nurseries and boats and barns and family businesses of a whole bunch of people. I have so many favorites--"Alla En La Fuente" jumps immediately to mind, which, like "Undergraduate Admissions Essay Draft" and "Annotating the First Page of the First Navajo-English Dictionary," shakes up the earnest essay forms to the benefit of the whole collection. "Vesica Piscis" is so dear, "Plane Crash Theory" is freakin' memorable. "We Carried Ourselves Like Villagers" wins for best title and also turned out to be one of my favorites. Perhaps I'd best leave it there. I'll probably be sending copies of these pieces individually to various friends for a long time, but I highly recommend the whole collection, too.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ted

    What a person considers to be "home" varies. For some, it's a life on the road that is constantly changing, while others seek to stop moving or feeling dislocated and find a touchstone. For me, like Leigh Newman whose essay is one of my favorites in this collection, "love is the single prerequisite for feeling at home. You must love your home for it to be a home. You might also hate it, resent it, fear it, or fear leaving it at certain low points. But you also, always, love it." No matter what yo What a person considers to be "home" varies. For some, it's a life on the road that is constantly changing, while others seek to stop moving or feeling dislocated and find a touchstone. For me, like Leigh Newman whose essay is one of my favorites in this collection, "love is the single prerequisite for feeling at home. You must love your home for it to be a home. You might also hate it, resent it, fear it, or fear leaving it at certain low points. But you also, always, love it." No matter what your concept of home is, this collection of essays is worth the time to explore.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lindaanne

    I wanted to like this book. However, after wading through about half of the stories I found that I just couldn't get into them and had to put the book aside. Maybe it's the anti-feminist notion of women focusing on the traditional arenas of family, children, hearth and home that turned me off. Sure, the authors represent a diverse cross section of the country in terms of their socioeconomic/racial/cultural/racial backgrounds and the stories reflected that. However, the overall tone of this antho I wanted to like this book. However, after wading through about half of the stories I found that I just couldn't get into them and had to put the book aside. Maybe it's the anti-feminist notion of women focusing on the traditional arenas of family, children, hearth and home that turned me off. Sure, the authors represent a diverse cross section of the country in terms of their socioeconomic/racial/cultural/racial backgrounds and the stories reflected that. However, the overall tone of this anthology was still overly descriptive chick lit (a genre I dislike) - albeit a Politically Correct, N.P.R. version of it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sonja

    This was a lovely book. All the essays were written by such capable women writers, all of whom had won literature prizes and usually were college professors. Many of the essays were written by women from Alaska - some had moved away and others still called AK home. The reason I liked those essays so much is that I spent 36 years of my life in Alaska so I could really relate to their feelings. The whole book was a joy to read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nanako Mizushima

    A collection of essays written by women. This was the perfect book to read when I had a few spare moments in a busy day. Each essay was beautifully crafted in a unique way. The messages varied widely and were mind opening. The quality of the essays were all wonderful and I hurried to read every one before I had to return the book to the library. Each essay had something to teach me. If I come across this book again in a bookstore, I'll get a copy to keep on my bookshelf. A collection of essays written by women. This was the perfect book to read when I had a few spare moments in a busy day. Each essay was beautifully crafted in a unique way. The messages varied widely and were mind opening. The quality of the essays were all wonderful and I hurried to read every one before I had to return the book to the library. Each essay had something to teach me. If I come across this book again in a bookstore, I'll get a copy to keep on my bookshelf.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Laura Linart

    As is the case for many essay collections, the writing is uneven. But there is something radical in women writing about their lives, and their homes—and not just as homemakers. I appreciate the diversity among the authors and felt inspired to write about my own experience of home. A good book for writers!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    3 1/2 to 4 stars. Interesting concept and a little uneven. Some of the essays are (as my daughter would say) "meh", but some are quite extraordinary, namely the ones by Pam Houston, Elissa Washuta ("Undergraduate Admissions Essay Draft"), and Danielle Geller (this one written as an annotated Navajo-English dictionary, but very personal). The ones I loved I really loved and will re-read. 3 1/2 to 4 stars. Interesting concept and a little uneven. Some of the essays are (as my daughter would say) "meh", but some are quite extraordinary, namely the ones by Pam Houston, Elissa Washuta ("Undergraduate Admissions Essay Draft"), and Danielle Geller (this one written as an annotated Navajo-English dictionary, but very personal). The ones I loved I really loved and will re-read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Josephine Ensign

    This is a solid collection of essays by a wide range of women and on many of the nuanced meanings of the word "home." I enjoyed reading it and expect to re-read sections of it and keep the book in my personal library. This is a solid collection of essays by a wide range of women and on many of the nuanced meanings of the word "home." I enjoyed reading it and expect to re-read sections of it and keep the book in my personal library.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Iris Graville

    I keep returning to this collection of essays. Such variety and wisdom from a wide range of women and experiences of home. Each one contains a truth about this complicated, vital part of life. Beautiful, thought-provoking writing; captivating voices.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Fontaine

    A very inspiring collection of essays about home. My favorite was "The Privilege Button" by Maya Jewell Zeller, but all of the pieces are well-written, relatable and interesting. I think I'll be coming back to this collection again and again. A very inspiring collection of essays about home. My favorite was "The Privilege Button" by Maya Jewell Zeller, but all of the pieces are well-written, relatable and interesting. I think I'll be coming back to this collection again and again.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Some comfort, some horror, some despair, all worthy. This was sent to me by that friend - we all have one - who only recommends books that I'm sure to love. I inhaled it the first time but I need to take a break and read all the essays again. Some comfort, some horror, some despair, all worthy. This was sent to me by that friend - we all have one - who only recommends books that I'm sure to love. I inhaled it the first time but I need to take a break and read all the essays again.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Lovely and moving. Tackles the question, “Where is home?” Some writers go back to their childhoods. Some have built their own homes in the here and now. For some, home is not a physical place but a state of being. The collections shows us how integral the concept of home is to our sense of self.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    Uneven collection, as essay collections often are, but I particularly enjoyed Pam Houston's essay about living alone at 9000 ft during a blizzard. Uneven collection, as essay collections often are, but I particularly enjoyed Pam Houston's essay about living alone at 9000 ft during a blizzard.

  26. 5 out of 5

    BJ Brown

    I inhaled this, which was probably meant to be savored, but it was already overdue and accumulating fines and it was my weekend. Still, I think it will linger in memory.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    Some interesting stories, but for me it was hard to get through. Turned out to be more poetry-ish rather than short stories.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Beth Counselman

    I found this so thought provoking and appreciated different perspectives in each essay

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sondra Weidman

    I enjoyed/resonated with some stories more than others.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Some of the stories were great, and others less so. I really enjoyed several, but by the end I was ready to be done with it.

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