Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

#16: Home Field (Hannah Gersen)

on August 20, 2016

Home FieldThis week’s novel took a distinctly dark turn from my recent reading. The debut novel of Hannah Gersen, Home Field is a riveting exploration of the impact of loss on the survivors left behind.

Nicole visited her father-in-law’s rural farm with her husband and three children as part of their summer vacation. Having struggled with depression throughout her life, Nicole found herself in a hopeless situation in the quietness. The solution was obvious. She wrapped the rope swing dangling from the barn’s rafters around her neck and took her life. Her middle son, a rising middle school student, was the one who would find her limp body. Thus ends chapter one.

The remainder of the novel examines how those left behind deal with Nicole’s illness, death, and the perceived role they played in everything. Dean is now a widower attempting to help his three children cope with tragedy while looking for his own coping mechanisms in relationships and work. Stephanie is the oldest and is preparing to enter college. She struggles to find her place in the world and experiments with alternative life styles in an effort to cope. Robbie, the 11-year-old who found his mother’s body, begins to run away from school and seeks escape through his imagination and the stage. Bryan, Nicole and Dean’s 6-year-old son, turns to his aunt’s Christian faith to find comfort and hope of seeing his departed mother again. As the family spirals out of control, another horrifying event brings the individual members back together….but is it too late to repair the damage done by Nicole’s suicide?

Home Field honestly deals with often taboo subjects. The need to place blame by all effected by the tragedy is central to the work. Faith and the church are portrayed as unwelcome and false sources of hope to the unbelieving family. The immensity of grief is shown as raw emotion that doesn’t conform to societal norms.

Home Field is not a feel-good novel by any means. However, I found it to be a valid representation of the struggles of a family touched by suicide. As I prepare to participate in the local Out of the Darkness walk  in the coming weeks, it was a perfect novel to prepare my heart and mind for the struggles that have hit far too close to home over the past few years.

For more information about the fight against suicide and how you can help, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: