Book Review: They Almost Always Come Home

RuchtiI picked up They Almost Always Come Home by Cynthia Ruchti when it came up on a Kindle sale because I had seen some favorable reviews for some of her books. I couldn’t remember if this was one I had seen reviewed, but I did remember Ruchti’s name being mentioned favorably.

Libby’s husband, Greg, has been on a solo two-week wilderness trek. He does these often, roughing it in the Canadian wilderness, canoeing, camping, fishing. But this is the first time he has gone completely alone. And now he’s late.

As Libby takes the initial steps to call Greg’s dad and notify the authorities, she also wrestles with her own heart. She had actually planned to leave Greg. Their marriage had been fairly empty since their young daughter died some time before, with Libby holding Greg responsible for what happened  to her. In fact, she wonders if perhaps he took this opportunity to leave her.

As Libby, her best friend Jen, and Greg’s father, Frank, embark on a trip of their own to look for Greg, Libby faces her own assumptions and realizes she might just be wrong in a few areas.

A little over half-way through, the point of view shifted from Libby’s first person to Greg’s third person. I was a little jarred at first, but after I finished the book, I agreed that was probably the best way to unfold the story of what happened to him.

There were a few too many…I don’t know whether to call them object lessons or simile moments or what:

[After wiping crumbs off the counter] How long will it take me to figure out what to do with the crumbs of my life?

I pick up my wide-toothed comb and tackle the tangles in my hair. Working at them little by little, from the bottom up, the knots soon turn to wet but smooth silk. Where can I find a wide-toothed comb for marital tangles?

[After putting her backpack on] How clumsy I am with all those pounds on my back. Like the weight of grief, it makes me stumble on simple motions.

[When biting ants attacked her father-in-law] A tiny intruder can create a great deal of turmoil. Under the microscope, the small choices in my marriage might have seemed insignificant, too.

I just encountered a lot of this in another recent book: Please, please tell me this is not a new trend!

The Kindle formatting is worse than I have seen in other books – first words in sentences not capitalized, words smushed together or unrecognizable.

But overall I really enjoyed the book. There were a number of humorous moments as well as heart-grabbing ones. I was touched by the faith journey each character took.I read that this is the author’s first faith-based novel. I was just a touch disappointed in the ending: I don’t require that every little thing be wrapped up in a tidy bow to be satisfied, but I felt a couple of areas were unresolved. I almost wondered if a sequel was planned, but it doesn’t appear so. Maybe the idea was that once the characters got their hearts right, the circumstances didn’t matter as much because then they could get through anything.

 (Sharing at Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)



4 thoughts on “Book Review: They Almost Always Come Home

  1. Interesting, because I think the author was at the Write to Publish conference I attended in 2011! From your review, I think I’d probably feel similarly about the book. I really don’t read a lot of “new” fiction, either Christian or non. Ha on the “simile moments” — spare me those, too!

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