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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.