[A] timely and powerful read. I suspect I won’t be the only one: This far beyond the looking glass, does anyone feel like they know their way home? ... Mead’s early American life, as revisited in flashback, is thrilling. She interviews Lou Reed and goes to Shaquille O’Neal’s 30th birthday party ... Home/Land certainly has a memento mori quality, but it’s not depressing. In embracing the complexities and paradoxes of home and belonging, Mead also finds solace, even joy. She captures brilliantly the bittersweetness of being far from home, a way of life whose sacrifices are outweighed by a feeling of living deliberately ... a remarkable exploration of how being mindful of the past can enrich and imbue with urgency our everyday lives.
Mead continues to zigzag through time by replaying her years starting out as a journalist in New York and tracing her parents' histories. Her non-linear approach never disorientates — rather, it invigorates, creating as it does a rich patchwork of overlapping ideas and recollections. Only occasionally are Mead's ruminations too ponderous for their own good ... This is an artfully crafted memoir which offers a clear-eyed examination of home, roots, belonging, and personal and national identity.
A book is justified by its quality, not its subject. Home/Land...does not falter by virtue of belonging to the reviled species of memoir; rather, it flails because it is insufficiently interested in the external world. Despite its many arresting images and diverting anecdotes, it reads like a very smart person’s very well-written diary ... Home/Land has no...through-line, and it can be maddeningly discursive as a result ... Nominally, Home/Land chronicles her move from New York to London, but in reality, it is as hard to say where the book is set as it is to say what, exactly, it is about. The text ricochets from reporting to recollection and from past to present ... Though Home/Land advertises its interest in its author’s alienation from the country of her birth, it is so densely peppered with interludes that it seems to be composed almost entirely of asides ... In fairness, Mead’s prose is so dexterous that it can be difficult to summon the will to fault her. She has an exacting eye and a gift for trenchant phrasing ... But for all of her careful attention to the subjects she sketches with such exquisite detail, Mead is often ham-handedly insensitive to political context ... If Home/Land is often pleasant to read, it is because Mead’s writing is locally absorbing. And if we sometimes have the impression that the book is outward-looking, it is because so many of Mead’s digressions amount to piquant micro-articles about the history of London or New York. In the end, however, the memoir’s connective tissue is ineluctably personal: The random assortment of places and persons it treats can be unified only in terms of their meaning for Mead ... Reading a book driven by the sort of personal fortuity that propels Home/Land is like listening to someone recount a dream whose urgency is available only to the dreamer. Home/Land is a casualty not of its genre but of its impregnable inwardness.