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The Way Home    by George Pelecanos order for
Way Home
by George Pelecanos
Order:  USA  Can
Back Bay, 2011 (2009)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Here is another gritty novel of crimes and punishments from an acknowledged master of the modern crime novel. There is, however, a difference in The Way Home because George Pelecanos, as always, rejects stereotypes in his characterizations and instead offers readers something singular and compelling.

As a rebellious adolescent, Chris Flynn runs afoul of his parents and law enforcement, and he seems intent upon defying every form of authority at every possible opportunity. Chris's single-mindedness eventually earns him a few years in prison, and there he learns how to survive in a vicious environment where loyalties and self-preservation top the list of personal priorities.

Once finished with his so-called 'debt to society,' Chris tries to get his life - and his relationship with his father - back on track. As a worker in his father's carpeting and flooring business, Chris tries to do the right thing by keeping his back turned on his old problems.

His old friends, though, are a different matter, and Chris's loyalties to his friends will again put him on the wrong side of the law. Then, when a friend of his is murdered, the pressures build to the breaking point, and Chris will need to make the most important decision of his life: Either he will follow the lessons he learned in prison, or he will finally live up to his father's expectations and do the right thing.

As a cautionary tale about friendships, family relationships, treachery, and redemption, The Way Home is another highly recommended winner from "one of the most literary of America's crime writers".

2nd Review by Mary Ann Smyth:

George Pelecanos, author of The Way Home, is a prolific Emmy-nominated writer, an independent film producer, an essayist, and so on. All that practice leads to eminently readable novels. And, with The Way Home, his reputation remains intact.

Christopher Flynn, a teenager, is having trouble adjusting to life. He finds himself incarcerated in the Pine Ridge juvenile prison. His parents don't give up on him, although his father is close to writing the finale. Jump ahead ten years and readers find Chris in a new life. I won't tell any more of a good plot. Though it's one that has been written many times before by many other authors, Pelacanos breathes new life into an old story, in a manner that keeps readers rooting for Chris to make the right decisions.

Pelecanos walks the walk and talks the talk in his writing. Conversations between his characters feel true to the life each player lives. Readers not only enjoy a good plot written by a master, but also a thoughtful - and thought provoking - comment on our times, society's handling of juvenile offenders, and the very dramatic effect rehabilitation has on the future of these young people. The Way Home is a very good book, well worth the read.

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