By Elizabeth Massie
Homegrown is a story of longing, despair, and hope at a children’s home in the mid-1980s. Three teenaged boys – Howard, Mark, and Cooter – have lived at the Protestant Children’s Home for much of their lives. Worldly and wise sixteen-year-old Howard is the role model. Fifteen-year-old Mark is the angry rebel. And fourteen-year-old Cooter, the only true “orphan” of the bunch, is the peacemaker, doing his best to make everybody happy and to diffuse bad situations with outrageous humor. They know the rules and the routines. They tolerate the adults and bond with each other. looking forward to the time they are old enough to go off on their own to make their own rules, their own lives.
The Home is not the nightmare workhouse of “Oliver Twist” but an institution that tries with imperfect understanding and limited resources to offer its charges a clean, ordered place to live. Yet when financial circumstances force the Home to accept more hardened “state kids” into its ranks, Howard, Mark, and Cooter find their world thrown upside down. Cooter does all he can to hold the threads of his life and those of his friends together, but they spiral out of control.
Told primarily as a flashback from 1994, Homegrown opens as Cooter prepares to take on the most agonizing personal challenge of his life. Yet it is while facing his past failures and his fear of the present that he discovers one true and most important fact about his life, a fact filled with hope and redemption.