When he asked Larken what was going on and did it seem like the kids at school were avoiding them, she snorted darkly and said, Are you kidding? Nobody wants to see us or have anything to do with us because they all feel guilty about not looking for Mom anymore. I just wish somebody had the guts to come out and say that she’s dead.” 
Sing Them Home forays back and forth in time to portray three grown siblings—Larken, Gaelan, and Bonnie, neither of whom is married, who live in the shadow of resolved grief since their mother’s tragic disappearance when they were children. In 1978 a tornado hit the fiction town of Emlyn Springs, Nebraska and swept away with the debris was Hope Jones, mother of the three who was confined to a wheelchair by multiple sclerosis. It’s not difficult to recognize the quirkiness of these individuals—a snobbish art history professor, a libidinous weatherman, and a stuck-up scavenger of inconsequential artifacts. The bouts of magical realism, albeit contrived and extraneous, confirm the inchoate evaluation.
So as Aneira Hope Jones is being borne home on a sudden, supercharged current of energy generated by her living husband, she sees her children not only in what the living refer to as the present moment; she is afforded other views . . . 
The novel explores the consequences of protecting the ones we love, as well as living a life of denial after a tragic loss. Hope tries her best to conceal from her children her terminal sickness that deprives her of her faculty of mobility and thoughts. Each of the siblings suffers from a chronic, diffuse psychological discomfort that most likely trails back to the loss of their mother (her death is never allured to, it’s gentrified as having gone up). The unconsoled sorrow defines their lives in a way that their ability to engage in interpersonal relations is snarled. Stephanie Kallos does an impeccable job to make sense of the void between the dead and the living. That they remain in this emotional vacuum well after the conclusion of mourning put them on the fringes of normalcy.
Some people are beset with a terrible disunity of spirit—that is how I think of it . . . These confident selves . . . march on, oblivious to the tender, untended soul at the end of the line, barely keeping up, holding no one’s hand, never reassured, always afraid. 
Least pacified and reassured of all is Viney, the assistant to Dr. Jones who becomes his wife and stepmother of the children. The death of Llwellyn Jones revolts all her assurance that she has bound together with the doctor through the rituals of everyday living despite having not tied the knot. She feels guilty of being the intruder to Llwellyn and Hope’s marriage, being opportunistic to as to take advantage of the fact that Llywellyn is bound to Hope out of pity. But over twenty five years Viney is the one who holds the Jones together with her love and affection.
. . . nearly twenty-five years . . . and still I cannot . . . still I feel . . . Was there nothing of her in what he became? Was it always wife and mistress to him, all the way to the end? 
Sing Them Home is highly lyrical although the characters aren’t particularly likeable. The siblings are respectively an intellectual snob, a prolific libertine, and a trying crank. The language, however, makes a strong case of their (human) foibles, convincing readers to be patient with them as they sort out their emotions. Along with the painful recollection of Hope’s accident is a series of secrets and betrayals in the family.
543 pp. [Read/Skim/Toss]