As with any book review, I know I have an obligation to remain professional in the following paragraphs. But Juniper Fitzgerald forces me to be personal in every letter that bleeds through the choreographed motion of my fingertips on this keyboard. I almost want to conduct this as an open letter to Juniper, a “thank you” note that wouldn’t be nearly as impactful as I hope it could be. But that wouldn’t be fair to Fitzgerald or her story, or to the stories of Jean, and Cassandra, and her Grandma, and Theresa, and Diana, and Marita, and Anita, and Dakota, and Andi, and Jennifer.
Trigger Warnings: Sexual abuse/assault, sexism, sexual violence, consensual yet gore sexual descriptions.
Sarah Fawn Montgomery's Halfway from Home is an intensely personal journey that flashes a reflective mirror upon American society exposing our collective imperfections and scars. Ever searching for clarity and reconciliation, Montgomery writes: “When I fly home to California from where I live in Massachusetts, crossing time zones and great distances like a space traveler, I spy Nebraska, another former home, another me in another time. No matter when I am or where I go, I am always halfway from home” (28). Halfway from Home takes the reader on a journey through memory and nostalgia. This nonlinear style starts in the opening sequences, beginning in San Miguel, California in 1991 where Montgomery, as her childhood self, digs with her favorite pail to find treasure in a magical backyard hole. Then four paragraphs later we are taken to Morro Bay, California, 1988 where she follows her father along the beach as he walks in the sand, struggling unsuccessfully to leave the same impression as his larger tracks. Almost immediately after, we are again transported to the year 1975, where her father shapes the land with his tools of labor. Just as fast, we are back to 1993, where Montgomery buried her dead frog, and her father could not understand why she was so emotional about it. The author provides the reader with several snapshots of memory from the years 1996, 2008, 2012, 2015, and so on.