Chris Flynn is a troubled youth from DC and after some brushes with the law, finds himself in reform school. Upon his release, he is walking the straight and narrow, working for his father, when he and a friend stumble upon a gym bag full of money on a carpet laying job. They don't take the money but it goes missing anyway and the owners come gunning for them. Can Chris stay on the right path or will he fall back into his old ways?
In The Way Home, Pelecanos revisits themes from some his earlier books: sons struggling to live up to the expectations of their fathers and how hard it is to not fall back into bad behavior patterns.
The book is split almost in half, the first half depicting Chris's life before and during reform school and the second portion details Chris's adult life, struggling to stay out of trouble. Cars, basketball, and music are the frequent topics of conversation, as per usual.
Chris Flynn, the lead, is a troubled man with a rocky relationship with his father. I think a lot of fathers want their sons to do better than they have but don't know how to go about encouraging them. I know mine didn't and neither did Chris's. I found myself relating a little too much to Chris, both before he went into reform school and the reformed outlook after he came out.
Like a lot of Pelecanos books, he takes a fairly standard crime plot, the found money, and uses it as a device to showcase his nuanced characters. Besides Chris, the rest of the cast is also a well realized group. Ali and Ben have become responsible since leaving reform school. Lawrence has not. Chris's father Thomas owns a carpet business and has a strained relationship with his son, both before and after reform school.
The villains of the piece were certainly vile but weren't that complicated and served more as plot devices than characters.
The ending reminded me of the ending of a few other Pelecanos books, most notably Drama City. In a lot of ways, The Way Home is Drama City 2.0. It had a very cinematic feel at times and I could easily picture it being made into a movie.
This one is right on the line of being a three or four. I guess I'm rounding up. I was tempted to drop it down to a 3 because it reminded me so much of Drama City but I still liked it quite a bit. 4 out of 5 stars.