Chasing Home

Fiction - Social Issues
216 Pages
Reviewed on 07/06/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite

In Chasing Home, a splendid novel by Marianne Holmes, Dustin Upshaw is a twenty-something college dropout who gets into trouble nightly. Finally, he takes his delinquent life a step too far and is sentenced to 30 days in jail. But due to his family connections, he is offered a deal. Get a job and become the official guardian of a dementia patient named Claude. Dustin’s job in a coffee shop captures his interest, but the place is later closed. Claude passes away, leaving Dustin, whom Claude calls Justin, with his ashes in an urn. So, what's next? Well, to find himself, why not pile his meager possessions into his car and take off across the country with Claude in an urn by his side? In Social Circle, Georgia, he connects with Willow, a waitress working on starting her own catering service. She gives him her number as he moves on to Florida.

Although it’s hard to like Dustin when the novel begins, I soon grew to care about him as he wanders around the country with Claude. After a few days in Georgia, he’s off to the Keys, then to New Orleans, a few places in Texas, Santa Fe, Colorado, Utah, Las Vegas, and ending at Venice Beach. Along the way, he meets fellow wanderers in life—a horny beach girl, a wise bar owner, an old college pal, and others, each of whom adds a bit to Dustin’s understanding of himself, usually in terms of what he does not want. Finally, he sees the light and decides to follow a plan he shared with Willow in Georgia. I enjoyed Dustin’s road trip and its many ironies, and I came to hope that Dustin would resolve his difficulties. I will leave that answer to the reader to discover. Marianne Holmes's ironic title, Chasing Home, is an immaculately written novel, with humor and compassion, about a young man in search of himself. A highly enjoyable read.

Tammy Ruggles

Chasing Home by Marianne Holmes is an intimate drama of a troubled man named Dustin finding himself on a road trip with the ashes of a dementia patient he'd cared for named Claude. This journey is one of awakening for Dustin, and you take the trip with him, growing as his character grows from a rudderless man to one with purpose. But how he gets from point A to point B is the intriguing part of the story. Once he decides to strike out on his own and make a big change in his life, you will encounter the people and places that influence him. As with any of our lives, Dustin experiences the ups and downs of life, asks the questions we all ask, and comes to certain conclusions. If you've ever had the desire to make a big change in your life and wanted a new place to call home, you will relate to this story.

Holmes is a good writer with a talent for drawing realistic and unique characters and for bringing you into the story as an extra passenger or bystander in Dustin's life. This character-driven novel is perfect for those who want to feel like they're meeting real people when they read. There are some quirky moments along the way, and some romantic ones too, which lead Dustin to wonder which choices to make. Her name is Willow, and she's a waitress he meets. They have some things in common, but does she fit into his adventurous plans? I really enjoyed the way the author has Dustin learning about himself from the people around him, especially Claude and then Willow. The uniqueness of Holmes's story is engaging, and the dialogue keeps the plot moving along at an even pace. If you're looking for a great relaxing read with poignancy and a message about life, friendship, and love, Chasing Home by Marianne Holmes is an entertaining choice.

Lesley Jones

Chasing Home by Marianne Holmes is about twenty-seven-year-old Dustin ‘Dustup’ Upshaw, who has had more entanglements with authority and the law than he cares to remember. When he is arrested for yet another barroom brawl, Dustin is unaware his life about to change forever. As he stands before the judge, Dustin is given an alternative sentence to become the guardian of Claude Burns, a resident of Shady Rest nursing home who is suffering from dementia. Dustin reluctantly becomes Claude's guardian and gains employment at a local store. Just as Dustin and Claude’s bond strengthens and Dustin feels he is finally making a positive contribution to society, he becomes unemployed and Claude passes away. With nothing left to lose, Dustin decides to use his late aunt’s inheritance and sets out on a journey of discovery. Since Claude had not traveled much in his life, Dustin decides that his old friend should accompany him. With all of his belongings packed into his car and Claude’s ashes by his side, they head south on Route 95. Shortly after, Dustin meets Willow, a waitress, and they form a bond that would last long after they part company. Dustin encounters several people on his travels who would unknowingly change how he viewed himself and the world. As Dustin prepares to say goodbye to Claude for the final time, he also has an interesting proposition for Willow, but will she accept it?

Chasing Home by Marianne Holmes is a beautiful, heartwarming story filled with thought-provoking life lessons. The characters are all interesting, realistic, and many are also highly intelligent. However, this story is primarily focused on Dustin and the development of his character. I thought his actions really highlighted his distrust of both authority figures and society in general. I loved following his journey of enlightenment and self-awareness as his emotional walls slowly came down. When Dustin packed up his belongings and drove toward an unknown future, it was also a powerful symbolism that he was looking forward to leaving his past mindset behind. Throughout the story, we are reminded that everything happens for a reason, even negative experiences such as losing people and things you hold dear. Dustin also met some very intuitive people on his travels, such as Cynthia, who gave him some incredibly insightful advice. I thought the transformation of Dustin’s character was the real strength of this novel. He transformed from a man wanting to make a difference in the world and leave his mark, but at the same time, reluctant to take risks to someone with goals and dreams for the future. The ending will make you shed a tear but also leave you with a warm glow of contentment. I feel this story will give you the inspiration to feel gratitude for your life and give you the strength to step out of your comfort zone and strive toward your full potential.

Pikasho Deka

Chasing Home by Marianne Holmes is a tale of self-discovery about an aimless young man struggling to find purpose in his life. To avoid jail time for a bar brawl, twenty-seven-year-old Dustin Upshaw finds himself assigned as a legal guardian to Mr. Claude Burns, an elderly man living in a nursing home who suffers from dementia. But Claude's death and the loss of his job put Dustin's life in a tailspin, prompting him to embark on a cross-country road trip with Claude's ashes in an urn for company. During his travels, he meets people from all walks of life, becoming particularly attached to a waitress named Willow in Social Circle, Georgia. Dustin learns that he doesn't need a specific place to call home. Instead, doing something productive with his life will automatically make him feel at home.

Chasing Home is a slice-of-life story with plenty of heart that leaves you with a sense of giddy optimism. Author Marianne Holmes's portrayal of a young man's quest to find meaning in his life is authentic and highly relatable. The characters are realistic with down-to-earth personalities that make them easy to root for. Dustin's journey of self-discovery feels organic and filled with heart-touching moments that enrich the reading experience. His conversations with Claude and later Willow and Cynthia make for some especially poignant moments. The narrative is very much a slow burn, but all the more compelling because of it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you love slice-of-life stories, I highly recommend Chasing Home.