Home Bound, by Vanessa A. Bee
In this singular and intimate memoir of identity and discovery, Vanessa A. Bee explores the way we define “home” and “belonging” — from her birth in Yaoundé, Cameroon, to her adoption by her aunt and her aunt’s white French husband, to experiencing housing insecurity in Europe and her eventual immigration to the US. After her parents’ divorce, Vanessa traveled with her mother to Lyon and later to London, eventually settling in Reno, Nevada, as a teenager, right around the financial crisis and the collapse of the housing market. At twenty, still a practicing evangelical Christian and newly married, Vanessa applied to and was accepted by Harvard Law School, where she was one of the youngest members of her class. There, she forged a new belief system, divorced her husband, left the church, and, inspired by her tumultuous childhood, pursued a career in economic justice upon graduation.
Vanessa’s adoptive, multiracial, multilingual, multinational, and transcontinental upbringing has caused her to grapple for years with foundational questions such as: What is home? Is it the country we’re born in, the body we possess, or the name we were given and that identifies us? Is it the house we remember most fondly, the social status assigned to us, or the ideology we forge? What defines us and makes us uniquely who we are?
Organized unconventionally around her own dictionary-style definitions of the word “home,” Vanessa tackles these timeless questions thematically and unpacks the many layers that contribute to and condition our understanding of ourselves and of our place in the world.
Praise for Home Bound“This moving book is both an act of defiance — a way to construct a home outside of borders — and a timely manifesto on the need for more equitable housing policy in America, weaving her scholarship in economic justice together with her firsthand experience of the many places she’s lived. Home Bound is not just a resonant personal history, but also a thoroughly researched investigation of home.” —Rajpreet Heir, The New York Times Book Review
“Readers of Home Bound will likely experience that pleasant rush of recognizing something personal in someone else’s reality, of answering, yes, home feels like this to me, too.” —Chicago Review of Books
“Bee’s lyrical, emotive prose takes readers through her life with an intimacy that draws and keeps them close. . . . [Home Bound will] appeal to a variety of reader, challenging singular beliefs of what it means to be a daughter, sister, lover, wife, lawyer, and mother.” —Library Journal, starred review