Going Home by Tom Lamont - review by William Pimlott

William Pimlott

Three Men & a Toddler

Going Home

By

Sceptre 306pp £16.99
 

Tom Lamont’s protagonist, Téo, doesn’t choose to go home; rather, he has home thrust upon him. At first he intends merely to visit Vic, his ailing father, in Enfield, but when Lia, his childhood crush, dies, he agrees to look after her son, Joel. Leaving his own life in east London and his hard-won independence, Téo moves back in with Vic. Drawing on the help of the local rabbi, Sybil, his self-­centred best friend, Ben, and his increasingly debilitated father, Téo builds a new home for Joel – one that can only be temporary, as his long-term fate remains in the balance. This homebuilding provides the backdrop for a meditation on depression, ageing and masculine purposelessness.

In less agile hands, such a combination might have made for a depressing novel. But at the centre of Lamont’s book are the breathless, torrential outpourings of a child whose magnetism pulls all the adults around him together. In capturing the gradual and thorny journey of Joel and Téo towards becoming father and son, almost despite themselves, Lamont does something remarkable. He transforms a vulnerable child, newly orphaned and with no obvious relatives, into the hero of this novel, the character whose courage all the others have to ape. Lamont shows that parenthood is made in the parenting, not in any blood connection. And in this honest depiction, it consists of frustration, impatience, poor sleep and rapturous moments of comedy, love and tenderness.

Going Home is largely a story of what men have to learn to make a family without women. Although the female rabbi ends up playing a crucial role, the main family-making lies in men’s wrestling each other into taking more responsibility. Téo excels at caring for his newly adopted son,

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