Book Review: The Long Way Home by Ann M. Martin

Book Review: The Long Way Home by Ann M. Martin

Title: The Long Way Home
Author: Ann M. Martin
Series: Family Tree, Book 2
Publisher: Scholastic
Hardcover: 214 pages
Source: Chicago OverDrive
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

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Four girls. Four generations. One family.
The second entry in the beautiful new series from Ann M. Martin.

Dana is Abby’s daughter — but she’s always been much closer to her father, Zander. He’s a celebrated New York author who encourages Dana’s artistic talents . . . even if he sometimes drinks too much. Dana is on his side in any argument, regardless of whether he’s wrong. And then her father dies.

After years of moving, often with her mother and three siblings, Dana is angry at Abby, and wants nothing more than to leave her family and get back to New York City. She moves in with her young, bohemian aunt Adele, determined to study art, attend school, achieve independence, and avoid all the mistakes her mother made. But can she leave her family and Maine behind?

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

The Long Way Home continues Ann M. Martin’s Family Tree series. Abby is now a mother and the focus has turned to Dana, her daughter, who’s chafing under her twin sister’s insistence that they both be the same and share everything. While she loves her sister, Dana wants more space and more freedom to be an individual. The family is well off, thanks to Zander and his success in publishing; however, that all goes away after a family emergency and the debt catches up to them, forcing Abby to move her family from their beautiful house to an apartment, and then back to Maine. Dana has to make a decision as to whether she wants to stay with her family, or follow her dreams to be an artist and live in New York.

Much like the first book, this book spans a lot of years and is more like a series of moments, with each chapter capturing a pivotal moment, and then moving onto the next year or so. I don’t think everyone would enjoy this, but Martin is a genius at being able to show character growth and change that way; I was given just enough detail to connect with Dana at each stage in her life before moving onto another interesting event that happens in it. I also like how Dana is so different from Abby and has such a different outlook on life, and I love how New York is portrayed in this story. Looking at the city through Dana’s eyes makes it magical and wonderful.

This book deals with hard concepts, much more so than the previous one, I feel, but maybe that has something to do with Dana’s character. While Abby had a difficult life, she was mostly optimistic; in this book, Dana resents her family for their misfortunes and bad judgment. However, a lot of the bad stuff that happens is much more present and immediate than in the previous book; it deals with death, poverty, and the scary reality of growing up during the Cold War, among other things. It ends on a mostly happy note, but I definitely wanted to read something a lot happier after I finished this because of the mood of a lot of it.

I really like the concept of this series, following a family through the years, focusing on someone of each generation as the time passes. It’s a good way to show the lasting affect of the choices you make, and also shows how life and family and relationships change as you get older. I very much enjoyed reading this and would definitely still recommend this to fans of middle grade literature. This book still fits under the historical fiction category, so I’m interested to see how Martin handles the next one, with the character being placed in a more modern time.

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