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Bringing Them Home: A Novel Review by Hillary Harm

By Elizabeth Wiens
OakTara Publishers
PO Box 8
Waterford, VA 20197

Bringing Them Home, a novel by Elizabeth Wiens, follows the Knight family from their initial consideration of homeschooling through their first year. The 203-page book includes an author's note and an essay titled "The Fallacy of a Neutral Public School System." This book is meant to advocate for home education and to encourage those considering homeschooling for their family.

The Knights had never considered anything other than the public schools for their children. When Cassy Knight brings her son home from school after a fight with a bully, she learns that he dislikes school because he constantly feels stupid, and her daughter tearfully describes an encounter with a teacher who ridicules her Christian faith. These events combined with the reaction of the school spur the Knights forward to reluctantly begin considering home education. The book follows the Knight family as they encounter the joys and stumbling blocks many families encounter during their first year.

I found this book to be a light, easy read. It covers many of the questions or issues that those new to homeschooling encounter, including scheduling and dealing with concerns from family members and the community. Much of the same content can be found in numerous homeschool books currently on the market. For some, however, a novel is an easier read and less intimidating than a nonfiction book on the same subject. The format of a novel makes this a book that many would feel comfortable giving to a friend or neighbor who is curious or may be considering homeschooling. Through conversations and situations, Wiens addresses many parents' questions and concerns.

At times, the dialogue seems forced. Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you can tell that they have clearly rehearsed what they are saying but are trying to sound spontaneous? This is the feel of many conversations in this book. This is most likely due to the "instructional fiction" nature of the book. Wiens is using the dialogue to make a strong case for home education, and that is why it seems a bit unnatural.

A seasoned homeschooler would not likely find this book helpful, except perhaps as a gift to someone they know who is concerned about their children in public schools but is not certain if they would be able to homeschool. If you know of families who are considering homeschooling, or even just removing their children from the public school system, this would be a helpful book to give them.

Product review by Hillary Harm, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2010