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Book review by
Cindy Kane, Common Sense Media
Homecoming Book Poster Image
Classic novel of four brave children looking for a home.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 19 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers learn about what it's like for kids to survive on the road without a parent to take care of them. They also get a glimpse of farm life and learn a bit about mental illness.

Positive Messages

The kids stick together and rely on each other in the face of great hardship, loss, and deprivation. They remain hopeful that they will find a physical home, but also know that their true home is wherever they are together as a family.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dicey Tillerman is fiercely loyal and endlessly resourceful as she leads her siblings to find a home. Kind college students offer food and overnight shelter and then a ride to the kids' aunt's house. Abigail Tillerman, the kids' grandmother, resists the idea of letting the kids stay at her farm, but faces her fears and comes around.


Four kids in a family are abandoned by their mother. They try to earn money picking tomatoes but realize they are in danger and must escape. Sammy gets into fights at school.


A villainous character calls a kind circus owner the "N" word.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Homecoming is the first book in a seven-part series known as the Tillerman Cycle. A National Book Award finalist first published in 1981 and reissued in hardcover in March 2012, Homecoming is the compelling story of four siblings, age 6 to 13, who are abandoned by their mother in a parking lot, and have no father to go home to (he left before the fourth kid was born). Throughout the book, they struggle for food and shelter and are often in danger as they seek out relatives miles away to take them in. Mental illness and death are discussed.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysoccerrules March 1, 2011


This is the worst book ever DO NOT READ IT. Had to read it as a novel study torcher reading it!
Adult Written byamalib April 23, 2010

Grades 5 - 7 must-read

Loved it, as it portrays the amazing resilience of children - that they can overcome dreadful circumstances with just a little love and support, sometimes comin... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byShelby~Renee April 9, 2008

Sad and happy. I didn't want to put it down until it was done!

After raising four children by herself, their mother just broke down. Her mind just stopped, she ran away from her problems. Then she never came back. Their mot... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byadkesalyn January 6, 2011

What's the story?

Part survival tale, part family story, this classic on-the-road novel features a family of four brave children led by 13-year-old Dicey. Abandoned by their mother in the parking lot of a Connecticut mall, the Tillerman children make a long, dangerous trip to Maryland to find a home.

Is it any good?

The plot sprawls, but that's acceptable in a road novel. The tedium, heat, danger, and unexpected pleasures of the journey are evoked in beautiful, sometimes heart-stopping images. However, some of the adult characters' dialogue doesn't sound entirely believable.

The lead character, Dicey Tillerman, absolutely carries this book. She is a magnificent girl -- fiercely loyal, endlessly resourceful, and intuitive, yet with the short temper and quick emotions of any 13-year-old. Seen through Dicey's watchful eyes, the other children are every bit as believable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the various definitions of "home" and "family," as well as the importance of sticking together in tough times.

  • How does Dicey's relationship with her siblings change over the course of Homecoming?

  • If you were in Dicey's position, would you have done anything differently?

Book details

For kids who love strong heroines

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