Reviews for Homesick

Booklist Reviews 2012 November #2
After one more argument about the distinction between keeping collectibles and storing junk, Benny's mother walks out on his father, but promises to return for her son. In the months that follow, 12-year-old Benny attempts to carry on, helped along by his teacher and his dad's best friend. Dad's hoarding tendencies escalate and garbage accumulates in the house, which the mayor threatens to burn to the ground. This looming conflict is sidelined by a natural disaster that sweeps through this tiny Missouri town and brings out the best in its residents. Set in 1983, the first-person novel is written from Benny's point of view. While the story is eventful, particularly during the climactic scenes dramatizing the storm and its aftermath, the plot seems less important than the portrayal of the idiosyncratic characters inhabiting Benny's world. Still, some aspects of the novel demand considerable suspension of disbelief. Recommended for larger collections. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
Twelve-year-old Benny's mother leaves because his father collects all manner of so-called treasures. But collector is a euphemism; Benny's dad is a paranoid hoarder, constantly fearing someone will steal his stuff. A too-quick resolution is outweighed by Klise's strong portrayal of a child coping with adult issues beyond his control. Klise effectively tempers Benny's disgust with his father with his love for the man.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #6
Twelve-year-old Benny Summer's home is sick. That sickness begins on the outside: cardboard over the windows, peeling paint, a yard covered with weeds, rusted machinery, and old batteries. And inside is worse. Benny's mother leaves because his father collects, but never actually sells, all manner of so-called treasures, particularly his prized vintage board games and Tandy computer. But the term collector is a euphemism; Benny's dad is a paranoid hoarder, constantly fearing someone will steal his stuff. With Benny's mom gone, the situation goes from bad to worse: a leaning tower of pizza boxes, rats, mold, a constantly blaring television, and piles of junk everywhere. A helpful teacher tells Benny how to run a washing machine so he can clean his clothes, but it's going to take an act of God to get his dad to throw anything away. And it does, when a devastating tornado hits their small Missouri town. The novel's too-quick resolution is outweighed by the strength of Klise's portrayal of Benny, a child coping with adult issues beyond his control. Klise effectively shows Benny's disgust with his father but always tempers that disgust with his love for the man, and for the "team" he so desperately wants them to be. betty carter Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 July #1
Beignet "Benny" Summer knows something's wrong with his father. Dad used to have a "collectibles" store, but since he wouldn't sell his "inventory," he got kicked out for not paying rent. In 1983 Dennis Acres, Mo., a town of 52 (now that Benny's mom's gone home to New Orleans), everyone knows everyone else's business (and most are annoyed by what they know). Benny gets a job at the local radio station to scrape together money to pay the phone bill so he can stay in touch with his mother. She's planning to get settled and return for him at the end of the school year, but Benny's dad is spiraling downward fast. When the town wins a "Most Charming Small Town" contest thanks to Miss Turnipson's (more than) slight embellishment on the application, everyone knows the Summers' house needs help. However, catastrophic changes are in store for everyone, especially Benny. Klise's tale of a small town full of nuts has its touching moments and a strongly voiced narrator, but there's no clear trajectory. Dad's odd prescience--foreseeing the Internet, eBay and smartphones--feels out of character, and the sweet and tightly tied-up finale reads as a bit of a cheat. Readers will respond to Benny's pluck, though, as well as his longing for a home free of junk. A gentle entry in the kid-in-a-quirky-small-town genre. (Historical fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 July #3

Klise (Grounded) looks at the effects of hoarding and the struggles and joys of smalltown life in this honest, good-natured coming-of-age story set in the early 1980s. Twelve-year-old Benny's mother leaves his father, whose hoarding has gotten out of control, heading for New Orleans with a promise to come back for Benny. With Benny's father increasingly unable to care for himself or his son (he won't let Benny throw away pizza boxes, convinced they will be valuable in the future), the boy spends his time with his loving and quirky neighbors, in particular his father's best friend, Myron. Benny begins work at Myron's fledgling radio station, transcribing amusing interviews with locals, including schoolteacher Miss Turnipson, who has entered their Missouri town in a contest to find "the most charming small town in America." As Benny's father deteriorates, the neighbors band together. While some things remain open-ended, matters still resolve in a surprising, slightly too-good-to-be-true, yet satisfying way. Klise conjures ample empathy for the residents of Dennis Acres--even Benny's father who, despite his problems, has a gift for foresight (sometimes). Ages 10-14. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 November

Gr 5-7--Imagine being caught in an impossible home life, powerless and alone with a parent who is descending further every day into mental illness. Klise explores this situation through 12-year-old Benny. It's 1983, and his father's hoarding and paranoia are worsening to the point of making life unbearable. Benny's mom can't take it and goes back to her native New Orleans. It's not until a tornado flattens their tiny Missouri town that his dad gets the help he needs. Particular care is given in depicting a smart and talented father figure, clearly showing that mental illness is totally unrelated to a lack of intelligence. A likable main character, colorful secondary figures, touches of humor, and a well-defined rural setting make this an engaging read. Tech-savvy readers will especially appreciate the predictions of the amazing capabilities of computers in the future, along with the dismissive response to those ideas by the general population. The book's many strengths, however, are marred by highly unlikely plot twists, including a national contest with massive prizes that requires no verification, and by the extremely convenient timing of the catastrophic tornado. Where budgets allow, this is still a valid addition due to the author's popularity and to add collection depth on mental illness.Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library District, Elgin, IL

[Page 110]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

VOYA Reviews 2012 October
Benny Summer's mom leaves when she just cannot take his father's hoarding anymore. He is obsessed with collecting everything imaginable--from empty pizza boxes to computer parts to a splinter that he claims came from the Holy Cross. He believes there are thieves who want to take his things, and never leaves the house for fear of something being stolen. When Benny tries to make it a school service project to clean up his own house, his teacher thinks it is a great idea, but his dad does not. As it turns out, that particular service project was never meant to happen, as a twist of fate ultimately does Benny's job for him In spite of the very serious themes of hoarding, mental illness, and divorce, Benny's story is humorous and engaging, full of characters who make the reader want to root for this small town in Missouri. Benny is a lovable protagonist, and the town of Dennis Acres itself plays a big role in the plot, lending a real sense of community. The ending wraps up a little too neatly but this is a good choice for tweens looking for entertainment with some depth.--Laura Lehner 3Q 3P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.