Publication year: 2012
Page count: 126
Format: ebook

Wander Home is set in an afterlife. The story centers on Eleanor and her family: her daughter Cassandra, grand-mother Amanda, her parents Sarah and Jack. All her life, Eleanor has been restless, looking for something or someone she can’t find. She desperately wanted a child but even Cassandra wasn’t enough to satisfy Eleanor’s wander lust. Essentially, she abandoned Cassie to her parents and grandparents to raise. Also, Eleanor has never been able to find a man for herself. She was able to find a man for a while but eventually she would leave him. Unfortunately, Cassie’s life was spent waiting for her mother to return. She never did.

Then, Cassie, Sarah, Jack, and Amanda died in a car accident and Eleanor was even more miserable than before. A few month later, Eleanor died of a heart attack. Her family has been waiting in the afterlife to welcome her. But things aren’t easy, not for Eleanor and not for Cassie.

At the start of the book, Amanda meets Eleanor and shows her around in the afterlife. Eleanor has to accept what has happened to her but she’s anxious about meeting her parents and daughter.

The afterlife is very different from any religious descriptions, at least as far as I know. The people can age themselves how ever they want, even to an age they didn’t reach when they were alive. Cassie died when she was just six years old, but here she can age herself to teenager, to her thirties, and older. When people change their ages, their emotional and intellectual maturity changes, too. So, when Cassie is afraid that her mother is going to leave her again, she changes herself back to a frightened four year old. The people can also visit their own memories or other people’s memories. Since there are people from the whole of human history in this afterlife, there are a lot of places and times to visit. Jack and Sarah traveled all over the world and I loved to visit all of the places with them. The descriptions were vivid.

The people also experience new things and grow here; they aren’t stuck to anything they did or didn’t do while they were alive. For the most part, anyway.

Wyle writes this story without once referring to spirits or souls. Religion is touched on only near the end. The story is centered on Eleanor trying to come to terms with the consequences of her actions. The people around her are very supportive and forgiving; they are trying to help her heal. Cassie has already made friends with other people and has a life of her own, yet of course she’s also trying to understand her mother. There’s a twist in the story, too. Unfortunately, I saw that one coming.

The writing is very clear even though with a setting like this, it would have been easy to lose the reader. I was never lost about which character’s memories I was reading or about whose point-of-view it was experienced from. The writing is just lovely.

The author kindly gave me a review copy.