Picks and Pans Review: Days of Reckoning

updated 09/22/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/22/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Marilynne Robinson

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Most fulfilling when read as a companion piece to Gilead, the author's '04 meditation on life and faith, Robinson's latest focuses on the ailing Rev. Robert Boughton, best friend to Gilead's narrator, John Ames. A reimagining of the prodigal son parable, Home tracks the seismic emotional shifts that occur when Boughton's ne'er-do-well son Jack returns to Gilead, Iowa, in 1957, after a 20-year absence. Jack's sister Glory, witness to one of his worst youthful acts, is also back, nursing her own sorrows. The trio play out a wrenching saga of blame, forgiveness and redemption, not necessarily in that order. If Gilead lifted the heart, Home breaks it again and again, as if to remind the reader of the miraculous resilience of that most mysterious of organs.

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