Journey Home

Journey Home

An exploration of our inner and outer identity (previously published as The O of Home)

Home is where the heart is


What does the word “home” mean to you? From a wide range of answers and her own experience, Jennifer Kavanagh explores our outer and inner identities.

Home is not just four walls or the country we were born in. It is not a locked door, an investment, a legal address, or a nation with rigid borders.

Home is where the heart is: a yearning for a precious past, a dream of something that has never been, or a present reality.


Wonderful writer (5 stars) ~ Anne Thornton, Amazon

Much research and easy interesting read It contains much information and I learned a lot about how people throughout the world live, manage on little resources. As humanity is interconnected I think I am unlikely to find true happiness if I do not learn to manage on less and share more. (5 stars) ~ Ann Taylor, Amazon

I don't think I have identified with a book so closely in years.I had so many moments of 'oh ..thats how I feel!' that I couldn't put it down. it explores everything from our need for home... family,spiritual, physical and links to country, culture and others along the way. it explores homelessness and the feelings of disorientation of immigrants. basically, it covers every aspect of what 'home 'means both outer and inner. I now understand myself better and my feelings of being transitory and not being bothered about that! this book's message is hard to pin down as it has so many. it is a very worthwhile and enjoyable read. ~ Colette Brown, Amazon

 "In the beginning is relation" --Martin Buber, 5 Jan 2012 [This] is an amazing and important book--a must-read for anyone concerned about the future of humans and of this planet. What, indeed, IS home? …These issues are not just for those involved in political decision-making and future planning in regard to shelter. All of us are affected, in ways we may not envision, by the limits and expansiveness of what other people call "home"--and by the ways we enable and thwart each other in our attempts to find it. There are so many dimensions to Jennifer Kavanaghs carefully researched and heartfelt study of "home," its meaning for humans, and the implications for the body and soul of homelessness--not having a place or "one single thing that you call your own." A warning to readers: the collective pain experienced in the stories of losses, in Kavanaghs interviews of the homeless, of visiting the displaced, and of considering the deprived people on our planet (especially in chapter 9, Broken Circles Displacement) is palpable.  …Through it all, Kavanagh asks the underlying and most important question: What will we do about all this? "Acquisition is fulfilling but addictive; our yearning is without end. Can we bring back that infinite yearning, from its material expression to its proper spiritual dimension?" p. 161 [Journey Home] is an essential read in our beginning to learn how to answer that question, both individually and collectively.   ~ Isabel Anders, Amazon

This is a book that opens the heart. Tender, thought-provoking, compassionate, and insightful, it leads us on a circular journey from understanding what we need and mean by home, through experiences of homelessness and forced displacement, to a true coming home to the self and the divine. 

~ Marian McNaughton, Chair of Trustees of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

Home - in the heart, in the head, a physical space that shifts and moves with emotions, a locale, a dream, a site of conflict and cruelty and alsointimacy and safety, homelands, exile- all this and more are explored in this tender and moving book which makes you wonder what home really is or
ever was.

~ Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Columnist and author of Settlers Cookbook a memoir

 A remarkably honest, unpretentious, clear-eyed account of a courageous woman getting rid of her worldly goods, and a lot of emotional baggage, and finding a new and exhilarating freedom. There are chapters about old age, death, displacement and homelessness: the whole is knitted together by the author’s voyage of self-discovery. ~ Robert McCrum, the Guardian blog

Home - the longing for it, the loss of it, the need for it - is one of the defining images in a modern world of travel, globalisation and uncertainty. In exploring the many meanings and interpretations of the word, Jennifer Kavanagh has produced a memorable and important book.

~ Caroline Moorhead, author of Human Cargo

If home is a theatre of soul, then that which is front-stage in one life, may simply be waiting back-stage or in the wings of another. Jennifer Kavanagh is a good narrator, she takes us to the heart of what matters in so many lives, and I am at home in the audience, listening with so many others, and saying to myself: Oh Yes! Oh Yes! This is the way it is, and, surely together in some way we can help each other to feel more at home in the world.

~ Lindsay Halton, Architect and author of The Secret of Home

This book drew me in. Its like a wonderful soup: lots of finely, delicately chopped nutritious ingredients, each retaining their own tang and individuality, yet creating a whole that draws you on to take another mouthful - and another. I marvelled at how, again and again, Jennifer takes us with so few and deft words into someones life and story.

~ Douglas Board, Founder of Maslow's Attic Ltd and chair of trustees, Refugee Council

There are some people - very few, I think -  who are both the centre of gravity wherever they happen to be, and who radiate a sense of calm and positivity: Jennifer Kavanagh is such a person. Whether this aura is a product of the many important community projects with which she has been involved or vice versa, I dont know. That she is writing about the importance of home is entirely appropriate, however. It is a topic of great importance, whose complexity and subtlety neccessitate similar attributes in the questing author - these, she has. Also, Kavanagh, an attentive listener, has experienced very different sorts of home, has worked among homeless people, and has helped eastenders, both new and established, to a better standard of living: she has a range of reference others may lack. Her book…is created by someone who not only knows her stuff, but has processed the information with sympathy for its sources and without the slightest condescension. I urge you to catch Kavanagh if you can. ~ N. Quentin Woolf, The Arts Show, Xstream East radio

This thought-provoking book is an exploration of the meaning of "home". Instinctively we may feel that we know what the word means - surely its just where we live. But Kavanagh forces us to realise that "home" can mean many things, not just a physical building, but also a country or an idea of nationhood, or many other things depending on circumstance. She explores all of those meanings and interpretations here, and perhaps most importantly what it means to be homeless, what it feels like to have nowhere to go for either physical or emotional shelter and safety. Covering a wide-range of human predicaments, from dysfunctional  families to migration, from exile to forced displacement, the book helps us to consider not only what home actually is, but the importance of ensuring that everyone has one... Told primarily through anecdotes, often first-hand, about the people she has met while researching her subject, the facts and figures, although often disturbing, are easy to absorb, and the style is very accessible for such a serious work… This is an important book and should be required reading for anyone working with the homeless and dispossessed. A good choice for book groups too - although I can imagine meetings going on for rather longer than usual, as not only are there so many themes to discuss, but many readers will have their own personal experiences to contribute.  ~ , New Books Magazine

Editors recommendation: [FOUR STARS] What does home mean to you? Jennifer Kavanagh explores the different meanings of home through the experiences of the many varied people she has met, from refugees to travellers. A philosophical work that looks at how our perceptions of home change from person to person, this is a well-written, thoughtful work that inspires deep musing. It is not heavy reading though and even though there are many challenging and sad stories within these pages, there is always a hopeful and optimistic counter-balance which reminds you of the human capacity for survival and compassion in the most trying of circumstances

~ , Kindred Spirit magazine

An unusual and original exploration of the meaning of home, the title referring to the circle as a symbol of safety, inclusiveness and eternity. In our uprooted era, the idea of home is especially poignant, and we have to start by being at home to ourselves with a sense of belonging. Many themes are explored and corresponding experiences evoked in the course of the journey. The relationship between house and home, the experience of homelessness, of being on the move, the importance of safety and community, of boundaries as well as belonging; the sacredness of home and the sense of coming home. The author sums things up by saying that home is where we all want to be. The book is as much a voyage of discovery for the reader as it was for the author, but she does not see it as a static concept, but rather as a balance between security and freedom, between belonging and longing. This seems to me to be correct, and it is well worth taking the journey through this book towards a better understanding of the concept.

~ David Lorrimer, Scientific and Medical Network Review

This fascinating book looks at all aspects of the word 'home'. It begins with our material home - bricks and mortar, the place of shelter and what it means to live without a home. The book then considers home as a relationship to others and continues to widen the circle of home to place and identity, both locally and globally. Finally the narrative looks at what it means to come home 'to self' and 'to faith'. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Jennifer Kavanagh has written a moving narrative that will encourage you to consider carefully your answer to the question, "What does home mean to you?" Kavanagh captures your attention with stories of her own experience, research and stories of those she has met. It will inspire your thinking and challenge your assumptions, but it will affirm for the reader that home is where we all want to be. ~ Tania Brosnan , | Magnet Magazine

There was a time when travelling throughout the world that I felt acute loneliness. I could hardly wait to return to familiar territory. Gradually that feeling diminished and vanished completely after I had spent almost five years in captivity. During my four years of solitary confinement I had to come to terms with my inner life in a new way. Today, I feel at home in virtually any part of the world for I carry home within. There is a great deal of truth in the statement that homelessness is a state of mind although that is not the whole truth of course. It is utterly miserable, and frightening to be without shelter and vulnerable to the world. As Jennifer Kavanagh points out in this book the concept of home means so much more than having an adequate place to live. It is, as she says, Where we all want to be. This book is important reading for anyone who would seek to explore the concept further. It would form an ideal basis for discussion groups or those who are seeking to establish support for the homeless. It does not pretend to contain all the answers but it certainly stimulates thought around a subject which so many of us take for granted.

~ Terry Waite CBE

Jennifer Kavanagh
Jennifer Kavanagh Jennifer Kavanagh worked in publishing for nearly thirty years, the last fourteen as an independent literary agent. In the past fifteen year...
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