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Home: The Quest to Belong by Jo Swinney – Book Review

Home: the quest to belong by [Swinney, Jo]

Jo Swinney takes us on a journey to examine what ‘home’ is and I had never considered how many different ways the idea of ‘home’ could be explored until reading this fascinating book. It is clear that Jo has wrestled with the concept of home on many levels, having traveled extensively throughout her life.

She takes the reader on a quest of belonging, unpacking the different layers that make up home. Like a puzzle, she carefully joins together each piece to another so we begin to see and appreciate a fuller picture of home, intertwining her own experience both past and present with current world events and biblical narrative .

As a graduate of Geography with International Relations, I think this book is interesting as it looks at nations, borders, cultures, citizenship and identity, all which played a part in my own studies at university. However, I really enjoyed reading this book from a Christian worldview too. Jo shares her own experience of home as a child through to adulthood, yet places it in the context of her Christian faith. She carefully weaves bible stories and Scripture throughout, highlighting key individuals’ experience of moving around, from the Israelites as they moved out of Egypt, to David as he adjusted to life in a royal household before fleeing for his life on the run from jealous King Saul and many other examples.  Having the perspective of an eternal home brings all the other aspects of home together under the plans and purposes of God.

Living overseas for just over 2 years and travelling to the USA by myself at 18 for four months, I often relate to the thoughts and feelings that Jo writes about so passionately. She gives a fresh insight and understanding to those who may struggle to find a place to belong – I am thinking specifically of refugees, religious minorities, individuals subjected to human trafficking, those who travel a lot with work or for leisure, the homeless etc.

This book has opened my eyes to the people that I see everyday and ask new questions. What is their story? Am I quick to form opinions about others without really getting to know who they are? At a time where many in the world are displaced because of war, famine and disease or stigmatized for what they look like, where they come from or other assumptions about who they are, Jo’s words cut to the core of belonging. It challenges me to step into the shoes of others and make conversations with those who are different from me, whether they are from a different country, religion, social class etc.

I thoroughly recommend Jo’s book for anyone who is interested in people, places and seeing the world from a different perspective. It will leave you wanting to make a difference to wherever and whatever you call ‘home’ and it will challenge your preconceived beliefs of others and what ‘home’ really looks like.

If you like your comfort zone, then you might not be tempted or inclined to read it. However, it is precisely your love of the comfortable and familiar which is why you should pick up a copy and move out of that comfort zone!

Publication date: 29th June 2017 (Hodder and Stoughton/Hodder Faith) and it it available to pre-order.

Jo Swinney’s website:

Follow Jo on Twitter: @joswinney


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