Today We Go Home

Written by Kelli Estes
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

Two survivors of American wars, one in present-day Seattle and one from Indiana of 1861, meet through a diary. The two women live parallel lives. Larkin Bennett finds her way back from Afghanistan to her Pacific Northwest home and into the arms of her treasured grandmother and cousins. But she carries deep survivor’s guilt and PTSD, and the ashes of her best friend and comrade in arms. She’s got another legacy, too: the Civil War diary of one of her friend’s ancestors, Emily Wilson. Reading the diary and understanding the life of Emily helps Larkin carry on. Emily is a farm girl who enlists as a male soldier along with her brother. She faces her own hard losses and dark nights of the soul. Larkin seeks peace and a place in her own family as she reaches out to her friend’s estranged brother with the heirloom.

Although the characterization and pace is strong throughout, sometimes one woman’s story is more compelling than the other as the time period shifts. And excess repetition is the result of using both first person (diary) and third-person narration for the 19th-century sections. Through moving details in twin centuries, both the power of war to destroy and the healing nature of love and art, even across time, are beautifully conveyed.