When aspiring writers ask what they should write about, the traditional advice is “write what you know.” This is a familiar adage, and one that I suspect the author of our book for this month used in writing her novel, Home Safe. This is because at its heart Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg is a novel about writing.
The protagonist is successful novelist Helen Ames, who loses her husband to a heart attack and then immediately after, loses the will to write. Helen is lost without her husband, who paid all the bills, fixed things around the house, and generally did everything for her. Helen then leans more and more on her adult daughter Tessa, who gives her mother grudging assistance but is yearning to break free and be her own person. Then, Helen finds out that her deceased husband withdrew large amounts of money from their joint account just before he died, and her world turns upside-down.
This was a deep and thoughtful book with natural and nuanced character development. Helen goes from a clingy whiner who can’t do anything for herself to someone who realizes and accepts her flaws, and is actively working to change. The plot is realistic and does not stray into romantic comedy or wish-fulfillment territory, and brings its ending with grace and heart. If you enjoy a feel-good novel that also explores some nuanced themes in death, rebirth, grief, and how to reconnect with family, pick up this novel.
Review by Shannon Wood
Adult Services Librarian
Nordonia Hills Branch Library