Review: If This is Home


If this is Home by Kristine Scarrow

Release Date: January 28, 2017

Publisher: Dundurn

Themes: YA contemporary, family, cancer, friendship

My Rating: ★★★★


Summary: Jayce Loewen has had to take on a lot of responsibility over the years. Her single mom works two jobs and long hours, leaving Jayce in charge of her four-year-old sister most of the time. When her mom is diagnosed with cancer, Jayce decides to track down her long-absent father in the hope that he will be able to make everything okay again. Looking for her dad was one thing, but when she actually finds him, Jayce is in for a real shock. When everything in her life seems to be going wrong, Jayce has to figure out who her family really is, and how to live with the possibility of losing the person she loves most.

My Review: I was sent this book as an eARC by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

To be honest, I was a little bit skeptical about this book going into it. Since this is the first eARC I’ve received for review, I wasn’t quite sure what kind of quality to expect, even though I asked for the book in the first place.

This book was definitely not what I was expecting, but I loved it all the more for that. This book has the premise of being a parent-with-cancer book, so I went into it fully expecting a heart-breaking, soul-crushing experience. I came out of this book happier than I would have ever thought possible. This book is powerful, and while at times it can be sad, this book is above all things: hopeful and strong. There is such a strong focus in this book on strong familial relationships and friendships, and it was just so refreshing. So many books these days are about families that fall apart during times of hardship, and this book was the exact opposite. Hardship brings this family together in ways that wouldn’t have been possible without it, and all of them are stronger as a result. While Jayce’s family has gone through the wringer, they love each other so much, and are so supportive through thick and thin.

The characters in this book try so hard, and Scarrow did an amazing job of developing them in a pretty short book. Every single character in this book has good intentions, despite the fact that most of them are deeply flawed. Something that I loved about this book is that all of the characters work so hard to be good people, and acknowledge when they make mistakes and try to atone for them. I also really appreciated that sometimes, no matter how much they try, it just isn’t enough. A lot of the time I feel like really horrible things are forgiven too easily in books, so I loved that it’s shown here that sometimes there just isn’t room for forgiveness. 

I didn’t really have any major problems with this book, but there also wasn’t anything in particular that made it stand out enough for me to give it a full five stars. I think this book could have benefitted from being a little longer, as I think it roughly translates to about 200 pages on paper. While the characters were really well developed, I felt that the plot of the story could have been a bit more engaging, or a bit more emotional. Knowing that this was a cancer book, I was expecting to feel a little bit more emotional at the end of it. Although I will acknowledge that then ending is clearly meant to be hopeful and is well executed, I think some added turmoil in the middle could have been helpful. My only other complaint is that occasionally the dialogue felt a little bit formal, but it wasn’t something that really bothered me enough to change my opinion of the book overall.

If you’re looking for a depressing, heavy contemporary, this is not that book. However, I think books like this are really refreshing and necessary in this cynical world. I’m glad that I read this book, because it restored some of my faith in humanity, and it was one of the most uplifting books I’ve read in a while.



3 thoughts on “Review: If This is Home

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