By: Juliette Fay

Published: October 30, 2012



Sean has spent twenty years in Third World war zones and natural disaster areas, fully embracing what he’d always felt was his life’s mission. But when burnout sets in, Sean is reluctantly drawn home to Belham, Massachusetts, the setting of Fay’s much-loved Shelter Me. There, he discovers that his steely aunt, overly dramatic sister, and quirky nephew are having a little natural disaster of their own. When he reconnects with a woman from his past, Sean has to wonder if the bonds of love and loyalty might just rewrite his destiny. Completely relatable, The Shortest Way Home is another perfect serving of a slice of life from the irresistible Fay.

Winner of the Library Journal Award for Best Women’s Fiction

One of the very first books I reviewed was SHELTER ME by Juliette Fay.  You can see my  5 star review from 2008 HERE.  This book takes us back to Belham, but focuses on different characters.  The characters, Janie and Tug from SHELTER ME are related to one of the side characters and are mentioned a few times in the book.  Instead, this book focuses on a completely different family and set of circumstances.

At first I became really interested in this story and the characters.  The personalities and quirks of the characters were well thought out and described so well I could picture them.  But, after awhile, the story seemed to drag for me.  I was frustrated that it was taking so long for main character, Sean, to see what he needed to do.  I guess I had a hard time accepting the fact that he was THAT far removed from his family that he couldn’t see how truly desperately they needed him.  

There were some twists and surprises throughout the book that held my interest.  Not to say I wasn’t interested in the story, but I just kind of felt like it dragged on for far too long.  It sadly became more of a chore to read it even though I really wanted to know how it was all going to turn out.  

This book also tackles the health issue of Huntington’s Disease and it’s devastating effects on a family.  I know little about this disease, but certainly have a new appreciation for those who have been affected by it.

My favorite character in the book was Sean’s high school friend, Cormac, who now owns a bakery.  One of my favorite lines from page 54 when Cormac was relating to his pies, “Fruit, sugar, and a nice flaky crust. Makes the world a sweeter place, my friend.” Yes, pie makes everything better, I think!

This story focuses a lot on the “What-Ifs” in life.  We all have them and can spend our life questioning or 
just make the decision to move forward and stop looking back.  This book tended to remind me of accepting where you are at in life and that even if it wasn’t where you want to be, it was ok.  

I was grateful for the way the book ended and even though not everything was resolved, I do feel the author’s choices for Sean and his future were the right ones to make.   So many times I wanted to scream at Sean and say, How can you not see what is going on here?  I think Kevin said it best on Page 324 where Sean and Kevin were talking about things that didn’t make sense.  Kevin tells Sean what doesn’t make sense to him about Sean, “You go away to help people you don’t even know.”  Yes! Kevin, way to call it as you saw it!  I think there were a lot of messed up decisions in this book and but that is what this story was about:  people’s decisions and those that were affected by them.   So, thankfully this story ended with Sean making the right decision.  If he hadn’t, I may have thrown the book against the wall.

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For more on Juliette Fay and her other novels, please visit

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