Sixteen year old CC arrives from New Orleans to her Gran and Gramps’ beloved farm sullen and practically unreachable. Her relationship with her alcoholic mother strained by the secret CC is desperate to hide from everyone outside her family, she agrees to spend the summer in the care of her grandparents to heal. But recovery is never easy, and some secrets are too much to keep locked away forever. CC confronts her past mistakes and trauma while forging new friendships and connections that will lead her down a path to a fresh chapter in her life. When a piece of her fraught past shows up to destroy everything, difficult decisions are made and the possibility of repairing damaged relationships is within her sight—but can they be mended enough for CC to finally journey back home?
The strongest aspect of CC’S ROAD HOME is its rural setting within the tumultuous backdrop of the sixties. Far removed from the cities usually depicted in this time period, the politics, culture, and tensions of the era still find their way to the countryside of Northern Louisiana. Popular music of the decade shows up on numerous occasions to give the novel a sense of setting, from the country twang favored by CC’s cousin from Texas to Elvis’ greatest hits that CC’s new friend, Addy, is obsessed with. Teen girls gossiping about the latest wave of British invasion by four lads from Liverpool in a flashy, vintage car feels like the quintessential sixties experience. By contrast, CC’s grandparents’ farm is quaint, worn a little around the edges but very much loved; a tranquil backdrop with horse stables and the scent of peaches wafting through the fields. Gran and Gramps are sweet, lovable characters in their own right.
Unfortunately, a lot of the novel makes it very difficult to settle into, despite its remarkable length. The prose itself comes across a little scattered and distant, which in turn makes some of the plot difficult to follow as it zigzags from one problem to another, dropping some threads that aren’t picked up again. Stilted, clunky dialogue creates conversations that seem unnatural, disjointed, and lacking in emotional depth. There are glimpses of interesting ideas, but everything feels a bit all over the place for it to meld together cohesively. Hampered by its uneven pacing, the most important conflicts rush toward their conclusion in the last act of the novel. More care to avoid harmful stereotypes when describing Black or biracial characters—even with the best intentions, the problem of “othering” comes up repeatedly—and a nuanced approach to the racial issues at the time would’ve helped, too. CC’s mother’s journey of redemption and her own healing was one of the plot lines carried out better than most of the others in the story; it likely could’ve had a greater emotional impact if more page time had been devoted to it.
Though CC’S ROAD HOME uses its country backdrop and 1960s setting well, a scattered plot, clunky dialogue, and an uneven pace make it hard to settle into.
~Jessica Thomas for IndieReader