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"Finding Home"
by Frances Duncan

Review by John Gabree

Let's pretend for a moment that you are a filmmaker. You want to make a picture about a subject that might normally be considered serious — abortion, say, or drug abuse or prisons or race relations or sexual harassment. Do you go to a motion picture company with a project like this? No, because the businessmen who make movies are reluctant to touch subjects that might tax the minds or unsettle the emotion of the 12-year-olds who are the target audience. And so you turn to television, where mini-series and movies-of-the-week routinely take on heavy, emotionally charged subjects.

Similarly, and for similar reasons, publishers of hardcover fiction are increasingly turning their collective backs on difficult subjects. Best sellers, like movie blockbusters, are made by creating products that appeal to vast numbers of people. Like moviemakers, book publishers (or their corporate overseers) are no longer content with modest profits overall. Every book, it seems, must hit the profit bullseye.

Even a decade ago a novel like “Finding Home” would have found a home at a hardcover publishing house. Today it has wound up as a paperback original, a cut above a comic book in the publishing pecking order. This is fine for the readers who happen to discover the book, but it is not so good for the author, who presumably loses out on prestige, a paperback resale and other subsidiary benefits.

Is “Finding Home” somehow “unworthy” of publication in hardcover? I don't think so. The novel is gracefully composed, the characters are believable and the events are well-plotted. Most readers will be touched. A story about the emotional impact of a couple's death in a car crash on their family and friends, lacking any ghoulish or occult overtones, it is simply too slight, however good, for most hardcover publishers to bother with. Of course, appearing as a paperback original makes it one of the lucky ones; many books like it are not published at all anymore. At least, like similar works originating in softcover, it stands some small chance of finding its audience. (1982)

Buy Finding Home by Frances Duncan



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