Call Me Home by Megan Kruse

A family story, in multiple voices, of pain and love and the journey to safety.

call me home

In her debut novel Call Me Home, Megan Kruse undertakes sprawling topics including guilt, sex, domestic violence and the complicated love of siblings, parents, children and lovers, in settings across the United States. These ambitious themes and clearly wrought characters are gorgeously rendered in feeling prose.

Amy moved from small-town Texas to small-town Washington state as an 18-year-old newlywed, before he began to beat her. The action of Call Me Home begins years later, alternatingly told in the third-person perspectives of Amy and her son Jackson, and first person by Jackson’s little sister Lydia. Amy tries to leave with her children, repeatedly, but to permanently escape her abusive husband she has to choose just one child to save. Eighteen-year-old Jackson finds himself on the streets of Portland, Oregon before taking work on a construction crew in Idaho. Amy and Lydia hide out at a shelter in New Mexico, then find their way to Amy’s hometown, where 13-year-old Lydia meets her grandmother for the first time. Flashbacks throughout the narrative also portray Amy’s marriage and abuse and the children’s early lives.

Call Me Home offers lovely descriptions of natural settings in Washington, Idaho and Texas, but central are the powerful themes and ugly realities of domestic violence, Jackson’s challenges as a gay teen navigating unfamiliar streets and country, and the shared and unique traumas of Amy, Lydia and Jackson. Kruse’s evocative, often lyrical language serves her subjects well, so that what results is not unleavened pain but painful beauty, even hope.


This review originally ran in the March 10, 2015 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish fun!


Rating: 8 garbage bags.

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