Wel­come Home, Car­o­line Kline

  • Review
By – May 13, 2024

Car­o­line Klein moved from her small town in New Jer­sey to New York City over a decade ago. She appeared to have it all — Ben, her hand­some (wealthy) Jew­ish boyfriend, a great (just okay) job, and her best friend from child­hood, Win­nie. After quit­ting her job for a planned move to Los Ange­les with Ben, Caroline’s world is upend­ed when Ben very ungra­cious­ly tells her that while he may be mov­ing to Los Ange­les, Car­o­line is not real­ly invit­ed to go with him. And that they’re break­ing up. 

To add insult to injury, Car­o­line receives a pan­icked call from her step­moth­er that her father has fall­en, and she needs to come home imme­di­ate­ly. What begins as an overnight trip home to make sure her father is fine turns into an entire­ly new life for Car­o­line. Forced to face the dis­as­ter of what’s wait­ing for her back in New York City, and con­front­ed with the real­i­ties of her father’s health and her own mis­takes, Car­o­line is pres­sured to stay in New Jer­sey to care for her father. She sleeps in her old bed­room and takes her father’s place on his beloved (and extreme­ly com­pet­i­tive) rec league base­ball team. 

As the sum­mer begins, Car­o­line runs into home­town mem­o­ries she had hoped to leave far behind: her first (and still very cur­rent) crush, Crispin Davis, as well as her best friend-turned-ene­my, Kel­ly Miller, who is now mar­ried with chil­dren. The all-male base­ball league is not hap­py to have her, and her father is much sick­er than she knew. In an attempt to run from these pres­sures, Car­o­line ends up with a DUI. As she begins to reck­on with her past, she is forced to face the deci­sions that led her to where she is, and deter­mine how to pick up the pieces and move forward.

Court­ney Preiss’s debut is a sweet sto­ry about what hap­pens when the roads we expect to take turn out to be dead ends. The Jew­ish moments in this book are impact­ful and relat­able (the Wayne Gret­zky – themed bar mitz­vah and the Titan­ic-themed bat mitz­vah are imme­di­ate­ly con­jurable for those who grew up in the mid to late nineties and ear­ly 2000s). This is a fresh and sat­is­fy­ing sum­mer read about fam­i­ly, redis­cov­er­ing the self, and what it means to come home again. 

Jes­si­ca Sender is an aca­d­e­m­ic librar­i­an at Michi­gan State Uni­ver­si­ty. She has worked in pub­lic and aca­d­e­m­ic libraries, and in her free time enjoys run­ning, bik­ing, real­i­ty TV, and explor­ing Michigan. 

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