Come Home. Love, Dad warmly introduces us to magical mirrors of every color and shape, giant balls of string, brothers wearing Davy Crockett T-shirts, and stalwart lions who guard the entrance to the Art Institute. Shelly Reuben’s description of her father’s escapades in the kitchen, “if flour footprints aren’t on the floors and carpets (it) doesn’t taste as good,” make you wish that you too, had been there to inhale the smell of his koochen baking in the oven. And intersperesed throughout these recollections are the enchanting letters that Sam Reuben wrote to his daughter. Wonderful epistles imparting proverbs, reciting poetry, conveying wit, wisdom, whimsy … and always … always letting her know that he loved her, and that he wanted her to Come Home. Love, Dad.
I was lucky enough to be sent another book by Shelly Reuben to review and I’m so pleased to tell you all how much I loved it. This one, called Come Home. Love, Dad, is a memoir about her father Samuel Reuben. He inspired the character Samuel Swerling in My Mostly Happy Life (you can read my review here) and it’s very clear to me after reading this book why and how he inspired a character so influential and impactful in Reuben’s other book.
From the start, I was hooked by Reuben’s writing. This book, though nonfiction, is written with the same charm that made My Mostly Happy Life such a nice read. The first chapter is only two pages long but I was already enchanted by the heart and humor that Reuben writes with and continued to be for the entirety of the book. She makes readers find themselves and bits of their own life in her stories and captures the best of people and personalities in these small glimpses of their life that make them feel so familiar. She described a night in the bedroom she shared with her sister with the sounds of home and family faint in the background and the imaginary barrier running through the middle of the room to mark her side and her sister’s side. She wrote that when they weren’t fighting they’d make a tent or talk. The description was short but it painted such a familiar picture and had me thinking, “Yes!” I know exactly the type of night she’s talking about because it made me think of my own childhood nights spent crossing the imaginary barrier to talk to my older sister. I immediately understood and felt the importance of the short moments she was describing. I admire her ability to show people this way. She has a unique talent of getting right to the core of people and giving readers a perfect sense and understanding of who they are by sharing stories that may seem like unimportant happenings that could easily be forgotten but are so full of character and the essence of the person that you can’t help but hold onto them. As Shelly herself said, “Forgetting is a passive kind of rejection.”
I’ve never read a memoir quite like this. Most that I’ve read have been sad, though meaningful, stories about the worst times in life. This one is so different and special and refreshing. It’s about a man who was so loved by his daughter that she had to share some of him with the world. It is no less meaningful than any other story—you can feel the author’s love and adoration for her father in every sentence. I think readers will appreciate this story and will see some of their own loves and life reflected in it. She not only tells stories of her life with him but includes his letters to her over the years she lived in New York City. There was humor laced into many of the stories that made me laugh out loud. A favorite example is when she was talking about covering dough to let it rise: “The dishcloths should look as if they were stolen from the men’s locker rooms at Ellis Island in the year 1910, but any towels with holes will do.” How can you not like that? This is such a sweet book about life’s ups and downs and the constant love and support of her father. It was so well written and just oozing with Shelly’s fondness for her dad. As a reader, I grew fond of him myself.
I want to mention that Shelly has sent me a few emails and has made quite the impression on me. She is so sweet and lovely. Her books have been a joy to read. I highly recommend this book and My Mostly Happy Life. Hopefully my reviews have given you a good sense of what they’re like and maybe you’ll pick them up for yourself. I don’t think you’ll regret it and I’d love for everyone else to be as charmed by Shelly’s writing as I am.
Thanks for reading,
Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.