Dawn Powell. My Home Is Far Away

Not your typical coming-of-age story. There are plenty of writers who show the suffering of children at the hands of adults, and some who can make poetry of neglect and abuse (Dorothy Allison. Charles Dickens.) And even some who refuse to valorize children and their illusions, despite the monstrous self-regard of the adult characters or the wishfulness of the books’ readers (Christina Stead comes immediately to mind). But I think that this book shows, more powerfully than any other book I’ve yet read, how alike and entrapped children and adults are in their desperation for escape. Coming of age, in this book and in many others, signifies the accession of privileges, pleasures, freedoms, and the ability to turn one’s back on the family. But if this is so, then the child’s dream of freedom–often the best thing she has–uncomfortably mirrors that of her neglectful parents, who flee both the families that made them and the families they’d made. (Four years later, I can suggest Rebecca West’s The Fountain Overflows as a comparable book.)
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