First Published: Great Britain, 2007 - Chatto & Windus
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Accolades: 2008 Orange Prize winner
In order to support his 5-year old daughter and mother, widower Lev must leave his Russian village to find work after the saw-mill closes. He travels to London where he will work at menial, back breaking jobs as he tries to circumvent the twisting roads that he faces as an immigrant in a new country. Fortunately, he will meet an eclectic group of Londoners who might not have all the answers, but with out realising it, will help Lev to heal after the death of his wife and to recapture his dreams.
I have been thinking of The Road Home for several days and as I reread my brief synopsis it just doesn't do this book justice. I know when writing a review there are clichés and phrases that we write a lot, such as, mesmerizing and thought-provoking, but this book is precisely that a thought-provoking book that has the ability to change a person’s viewpoint: mine specifically. I consider myself a pretty open-minded person, sympathic to the needs and problems of others, but this book made me question what my perception really was of immigrants and, if I was at least subconcsiously, part of the problem. Let me explain.
In The Road Home Tremain has done a brilliant job of really getting into the mind of Lev. When he feels the frustration of language problems or anger because people think he’s stupid when he has just misunderstood a phrase or word, as the reader, you feel it, too. When strangers on the streets of London stare at him as if he is a vagrant because his clothes are outdated and he needs a shave you come to understand how much we judge people and how often our perception is wrong. As I was reading this book I began to wonder if while walking down a street did I inadvertently misjudge someone by their appearance and gave a look that alienated them or made them feel unworthy - shame on me.
Now Lev isn’t always a nice guy in The Road Home, but he’s sincere in his humanity and in his willingness to change in order to make life better for himself and those he loves. Lev isn't perfect, none of us are, and Tremain has shown us in The Road Home that we have the ability to change, make life easier for someone else, and set our dreams free.