The Road Home

The Letter Series Book 2

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
502 Pages
Reviewed on 05/22/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. She lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children. For more information, visit www.kshoop.com.

    Book Review

Reviewed by John Thornton for Readers' Favorite

The Road Home (The Letter Series Book 2) by Kathleen Shoop is a very well written and engaging book. I am a fan of historical novels, and The Road Home is a well-told yarn that held my attention and gave me a wonderful reading experience. Kathleen Shoop can paint vivid pictures with her words. I got the feeling of being immersed in the culture, the times, and the characters’ lives. Emotionally, this book hooked me.

The plot involves twins Katherine and Tommy Arthur but is in no way constrained to just them. The author weaves the tale of their lives and brings in supporting characters as needed to keep the flow of the story moving along at a steady and page turning pace. The opening situation with the twins’ mother is unforgettable, and in a way that dramatic event casts its shadows over the rest of the book. Life in the late nineteenth century and into the early years of the twentieth century was not easy, and those times are well described. So many things done by hand, and so much hard and long work.

The characterization is one of the stronger elements in The Road Home as each characters has his or her own quirks. Some are quite lovable, and some are people I felt like yelling at. Some characters are religious in a good way, some are spiritually abusive to others, and that accurately reflects reality, not only in times a hundred plus years ago, but also today. I found myself thinking about this story as I went about my daily life, more than I usually do with books I read (I read a lot).

The chapters are set up with a date, name, and location. I found this personally meaningful for I live in the areas described (my home is Sioux Falls). The setting and feel for these places rang true. There are 45 chapters. At first glance I felt this might be an issue, keeping track of the changing flow, but the author did a superb job weaving all the threads together to tell a tightly knit story. Dialogue was excellent. Phrasing and idioms sounded real to the era (although I am not a history teacher), and I did not find any anachronisms. The story truly felt like circa 1900. I liked the way the author used some varied points of view (consistent within each chapter) to tell the tale. That was done very effectively.

There are a number of different families, all with their own flavor, and the characters move in and out of the interactions with those families. That plays an important role in the relationships between the characters. This too was effectively done, and none of the people seemed too much like a card-board cutout. Even the minor characters had depth. A well told story, with quality dialogue, vivid descriptions, and an accurate feel for an historical setting.

Mamta Madhavan

The Road Home (The Letter Series Book 2) by Kathleen Shoop is an emotional story that takes readers through the lives of twins Katherine and Tommy Arthur. Memories still grip Katherine and her twin brother Tommy, even during their mother's funeral. They desperately try to forget their past when they were in different boarding houses, and how they tried to make it their home. Both of them look back at the events that have shaped them to be the persons they are now, and they know they have to begin living again by forgetting the unfortunate incidents of their past. They realize that they have to look at the positive things in life, despite the misfortune that happened. Will they succeed in doing that? Will the Arthurs be able to reconstruct their life in a good way by letting go of their unhappy past?

The twists and turns make this book an interesting read. The story takes readers back in time and also brings them back to the present effortlessly, making it a compelling story of redemption, forgiveness and hope. The plot is unpredictable and will make readers wait eagerly to know what is going to happen next when they turn the page. The setting of the plot and the imagery is aesthetic and beautiful. The characterization of the twins and their mother, Jeanie Arthur, is exceptional, and they stand out in their individuality though being family. This book will touch the hearts of readers with its beautiful message of forgiveness and hope.

Kathryn Bennett

The Road Home (The Letter Series Book 2) by Kathleen Shoop starts in 1891 where twins Katherine and Tommy have lived apart for three years and have tried to make the boarding houses they reside in feel more like home. However, the time is unstable and unrest forces them to make choices they may not have made otherwise just to survive, while their mother has to make hard choices of her own. When the years move forward to 1905, Katherine is still haunted by memories and she must revisit that time as the mourners show for her mother's funeral.

I love a good historical fiction and this one most certainly goes into the good file. Kathleen Shoop has woven a story that crosses over several years with events that define lives. Katherine and Tommy are two characters that will stand out in my mind for a long time. The way the story blends back and forth between the two time periods is seamless and enjoyable, slowly painting a whole picture for the reader to see. I have not read the first book in this series, but I honestly feel that this one stands alone beautifully. You will take a journey with these characters that will evoke emotions and entertain you. This is my favorite kind of historical fiction; emotional and fun at the same time. I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves a great book.

K.C. Finn

The Road Home is a historical fiction novel by Kathleen Shoop and the second book in The Letter Series. This turn of the century family drama switches between 1891 and 1905, chronicling the lives of twins Katherine and Tommy Arthur, as well as the unwinding fate of their mother, Jeanie. We are told from the start that Katherine is in mourning for her mother’s recent passing, then transported back in time to the hardships that she and her brother had to face when they were young. Survival, determination and the power of unfaltering hope are strong themes in this character-led tale of repairing the broken pieces of one’s life, and how only reflection and acceptance can complete that reconstruction.

Whilst the story isn’t the most action-packed of tales, Kathleen Shoop is a master of emotional depth and creativity, and readers who enjoy a deeply psychological read will appreciate the journey they’re taken on. I enjoyed the shifting perspectives and timeline of The Road Home, particularly the first-person sections of the fallen-from-grace Jeanie Arthur as she tries desperately to rebuild her lost life and do right by her children. The full spectrum of parental relationships is explored alongside the vivid backdrop of nineteenth century America, which is full of flavour but not overdone on the details. I especially enjoyed the dedication Shoop puts into making her dialogue sound authentic to the time period, as well as her clever use of different situations which children and young people faced in those dire times. Overall, an excellent read.

Samantha Coville

Kathleen Shoop will take you on a fraught, weary road of redemption that spans 14 years of the Arthur family's lives. The story told in The Road Home, the second book in The Letters Series, truly begins in 1891 where two twins - separated from each other for three years - can't see any hope for the future. But their mother has developed a plan to fix all their problems and it might just work. But fast forward 14 years later and there's Katherine, mourning her mother's passing. What could have happened during that time to tear the family apart so tragically? Whatever happened to the great plan their mother had devised? You'll just have to read to find out.

And read you should! The ease with which Kathleen Shoop weaves a delicate tale of love, loss, and family, and sets it an era that highlights it perfectly is an enviable skill. Within the first few pages of The Road Home, you're already feeling something for Katherine and wondering what story leads up to this funeral scene. And while it is a long story, over 400 pages, and it does drag at points, you go along with it. I was glued for a whole evening. The characters are genuine people, the setting seems to be so real that it's right outside your door, and the mysteries behind the Arthur family keep you reading from dusk till dawn. I've already added all of Kathleen Shoop's other pieces to my shopping wish list and I can honestly say I'm excited to read each and every one. If you enjoy sleep, this isn't the book for you! Bravo, Kathleen, and bravo, Katherine!