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The Way Home

(published by Five Star)

On a summer night, Carolyn Sayles, 37, a divorced financial analyst from Los Angeles, drives to her hometown of Palm Springs because her father, Edgar, 78, has been put on probation at Desert Rose Retirement Home. The crime? Biting an aide at dinner. Bad timing--the week that Carolyn is preparing to step into a new job as vice-president of her consulting firm.

When Carolyn discovers that her father’s health is failing and he is being kicked out of Desert Rose, she is torn between her so-called daughterly duty and contempt for her dad. Although the family home dredges up memories of her mother’s death, her father’s drinking, and the family’s eventual dissolution, she reluctantly forfeits her promotion, takes family leave, and moves to the desert.

At Desert Rose she meets Rex Barnett, 43, a windsmith who repairs the desert windmills. Rex, from Texas, brings his Australian shepherd to the home for the residents’ pet therapy program. Carolyn encourages Rex to pursue a relationship with his estranged children while he pushes her to resolve her resentment toward her father. She also explores her own Native American roots with the help of Rex's friends from the local Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

Carolyn learns that returning home is the only way to mend the past. She begins to question the life in Los Angeles she considers leaving. She also discovers that love can be found in the most unlikely places.


"What makes The Way Home worth reading, more than anything else, it's the quirky but still believable characters. Johnson's portrayal of the often awkward issue of how to deal with a failing, and in this case, cantankerous parent, is deft and sensitive--graced with more than a garnish of humor."

--Tim Wilcox, Coast Magazine

“For anyone who has ever driven the desert and been captivated by the sight of wind farms, the miles of perfectly spaced white mills, turning in what we can only perceive as harmony, this novel is a must-read. The landscape seems to make all kinds of love and healing possible.”
--Stacy Bierlein, Other Voices

“Allison Johnson writes about people on the edge. In particular, people in Southern California who are living on the fringe, physically, emotionally, and mentally. In The Way Home she writes about real people who make human mistakes that are not healed overnight.”
--Jamie Lee Pricer, The Desert Sun

“Allison Johnson’s The Way Home is a beguiling blend of family politics, Western landscape, and the complications of the human heart. Readers will love Carolyn and Rex’s rocky paths to happiness and be in their corner as they find each other along that trail.”
--Jo-Ann Mapson, author of The Owl and Moon Cafe