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Dwelling Places: A Novel [Paperback]

By Vinita Hampton Wright (Author)
Our Price $ 11.86  
Retail Value $ 13.95  
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Item Number 56137  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   352
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.8" Width: 5.3" Height: 1.1"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 26, 2007
Publisher   Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN  0060859547  
EAN  9780060859541  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Mack and Jodie have no idea how much their lives are going to change when they decide to give up farming. Mack is hospitalized with depression, Jodie finds herself tempted by the affections of another man, and their teenage children begin looking for answers outside the family-Kenzie turns to fundamentalist Christianity, and Taylor starts cavorting with Goths. Told in the unforgettable voices of each family member, this powerful story of family life reveals the stubborn resilience of love and how sometimes the very thing we're looking for has been waiting at home all along.

Buy Dwelling Places: A Novel by Vinita Hampton Wright from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780060859541 & 0060859547

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More About Vinita Hampton Wright

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Vinita Hampton Wright is a Loyola Press editor and writer of many books, including Days of Deepening Friendship and Simple Acts of Moving Forward, and she blogs for She has been practicing Ignatian spirituality for a decade and writing about it for nearly as long. She lives in Chicago, IL, with her husband, two dogs, and two cats.

Vinita Hampton Wright currently resides in Chicago, in the state of Illinois. Vinita Hampton Wright was born in 1958.

Vinita Hampton Wright has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Fisherman Bible Studyguides

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary   [79254  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Inspirational   [3852  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Brilliant in Understanding and Scope  Oct 16, 2006
Vinita Hampton Wright's book packs a great wallop. I chose this book because it is set in my home state of Iowa. It was only after I was well into the book that I realized that although the town of Beulah is fictional, she did base it on Mahaska County. My dad graduated from Eddyville High; my aunt lived in Fremont; and my grandparents moved south to Monroe County in Albia. I have spent a good deal of time in this area. So I felt connected by virtue of the setting to this story. Clearly, Wright uses it as a universal setting for rural areas where people work hard and have a hard time making ends meet. I think she gets it right.

This story seems so true to life because the characters are very much like real people. I really appreciated the father Mack who has suffered major setbacks in losing his farm, his father and brother. The depression that this sends him into is well articulated. Wright allows us to get in Mack's head. We see that although he's deeply unhappy and unfulfilled on one level, he also greatly loves his family. His connection to his son young Taylor is beautiful. Young Taylor may wear the Goth make-up & garb, but inside he's a kid trying to come to terms with a difficult circumstance in his own unique way. While mother Jodie tends to want to rail at Young Taylor, Mack takes time to listen to his son, whether he's bailing him out of jail or sitting in a graveyard over his father and brother's graves.

The women are also written very well. The mother Rita who cares for everybody and makes it her business to help people without fanfare is so true-to-life. Her wisecrack that she understands how women who get older sometimes become lesbians just so they won't have to look after men anymore was hilarious. Wife Jodie feels all the pressures of the family on her children. She is deeply unhappy, but too busy to consider it. Whenever things get too emotional, she cleans. She is out of touch with her own feelings and can barely manage it when Terry starts giving her attention which leads to an affair. Her daughter Kenzie gets wrapped up in an evangelical Jesus movement and becomes too fundamental even for her own friends. This leads 14-year-old Kenzie to her 30-something friend Mitchell as they hatch their plans to head to Kansas to a cult-like Christian retreat, without her parents' knowledge or approval. Wright masterfully manages the subplots of the affair and the runaway into the crises this family must face. The church service for the families to mourn their former farm lives is moving.

My favorite part (pp. 275-281) is between Mack and Young Taylor while Mack removes the Goth makeup as Young Taylor explains why he wears it. The father's understanding and acceptance of his son even as he holds firm to the family's standards is beautiful, particularly for any dad of a troubled teen. In the end, what comes to me from this book is that families are made of generations of people, all imperfect, with differing strengths & weaknesses. There are no perfect grandparents, no perfect parents, and no perfect children. But with love, we can appreciate and nurture the best in each other. By caring for each other, we bring out the best in ourselves. This is an intensely personal novel, brilliant in its understanding & scope. Bravo!
Slow Paced Novel Takes Hold  Oct 9, 2006
If you enjoy books firmly rooted in a particular place, you might enjoy this book. It's a book about a dysfunctional family, one struggling to deal with the loss of a way of life, farming, in a small Midwestern town.

Wright looks at the disparate responses to this loss through the alternating eyes of Mack, the father who has just returned from a brief stay in the psychiatric ward for depression; Jodie, his wife, who has stoically held things together while he was gone, and now, on his return loses both faith and fidelity; fourteen-year old Kenzie, who has turned to Jesus but, alas, come under the sway of an older man who, unbeknown to her, has his own mental and emotional problems; Rita, the grandmother, who hangs onto faith but won't have anything to do with the church; and Young Taylor, the sixteen year old son who dresses in Goth attire and keeps his distance.

Really, all of these characters are struggling with faith in God, with believing in a good God even when life is difficult. Mack is depressed and almost takes his own life. Jodie has an affair that nearly ends the family. Kenzie goes off the religious deep end. Rita retain faith in God but has none in people. And Young Taylor, the one who the story doesn't directly focus on? Well, he's the one who makes the clearest affirmation of faith. He's having a conversation with Mack, telling him about how he had almost drowned when he was sixteen after falling out of a boat:

"I started taking in water, and I tried to find the surface but couldn't. I couldn't see my own air bubbles. I thought, This is a stupid way to go.

Young Taylor pauses. So does Mack. . . .

An then I had this feeling that I was going someplace else and that everything would be okay. I knew that in just another minute I'd see people on the other side. But all of a sudden somebody grabbed me real hard and pulled me straight up out of the water. I thought it had to be one of the guys, but it felt like somebody a lot stronger. I could hear Bobby and Dale screaming my name -- they were at least ten yards away. I tried to see who pulled me up, but nobody was there. . . .

Why did you tell me this, son?

I thought you needed to know. Death is just another country. . . . It's another country. And God's taking care of things there, the same as here. God's in charge of getting people from one place to another. You don't need to worry about it, or be afraid of it."

So the quiet one, the Goth-kid, turns out to be the one with a firm faith; Kenzie, disillusioned, is just beginning to find out what true faith is; Mack is learning to trust God again, moment by moment; and Jodie's not able to trust, not yet, but she's staying with her family. Grace breaks through into this problematic family, a voice here, and angel there, and faith returns, slowly but in a real way, like gold. While the faith they possess may seem a bit thin to Christians, particularly when juxtaposed against the rich words to the hymns reprinted as a preface to each chapter, these are people recovering, learning to believe, not just in some kind of cultural Christianity but in a real God, one who is sovereign and good and yet one who allows us to be refined in the crucible of trial.

I warmed to these characters very slowly, so much so that I almost turned back. But I'm glad I stayed with it. Now, during the day, I catch myself thinking of them, wondering how there are now -- and then remembering that they're not real. Or are they?

Another lovely, big-hearted story  Jul 11, 2006
I've enjoyed all of Ms. Wright's books including her non-fiction books on creativity and writing. Dwelling Places is truly something special. She has deftly and lovingly written about mental illness in a way that should open the eyes of anyone who reads this book. It is a sticky subject, something many people still feel awkward and uneasy about. But with her unflinching eye and obvious caring for people, she reveals the characters in Dwelling Places in such a way that it would be difficult for a person not to acknowledge and sympathize with the pain experienced by mentally ill people and the people who love them. I congratulate and applaud her for tackling a tough subject in such a graceful manner.
dearness, humor, wisdom and depth  Jul 5, 2006
I loved dwelling in this book. The story unfolds from several points of view and each is distinct and unique and of interest. The context of the book, the failure of family farms, is rendered as well as the story of a family towed under by losing their farm. This book relates some tragic stuff, but reading it didn't make me sad--because there's humor, and tenderness and warmth in the telling of the story. I actually found myself yearning to be part of a farm family, to have that kind of closeness to each other and the land. The depiction of the teen characters was especially good I thought. And best of all were these wise sentences, places where the writer went deeper and I learned something.
Many of the characters have lost their faith, and this loss is placed against the words of some incredibly beautiful hymns used at the begining of chapters. I wanted the characters to regain their faith and some of them did, but what they regain is different and seems less and thinner than the faith expressed in the hymns, and the faith the characters had before their losses, and this is hard to read as an evangelical Christian.
Also, the end of the story was quite abrupt. I don't believe I have ever read a good book that ended so abruptly before. It was as if someone had cut off the real ending and misprinted the book.
A Fully Satisfying Book  Apr 27, 2006
Vinita Hampton Wright's "Dwelling Places", a moving, thoughtful work brings the reader into the lives of a farm family. Rather a family that has lost its farm, the place of its spirit and its soul. How does this loss affect each of the members of the family? What happened to the interactions among them? What happens to their dreams, their fears, their courage?
Lest you think that such an exploration would be dispiriting, know that you will find yourself hoping, believing in new ways with each character in the family. Rarely have I read a novel in which the people were so real and as a result so engrossing.

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