One State / One Story: The Year We Left Home

One State / One Story invites Hoosiers to engage deeply with a book as part of a statewide conversation tied to Indiana Humanities’ current theme.

One State / One Story: The Year We Left Home

Indiana Humanities’ One State / One Story program invites Hoosiers to engage deeply with a book as part of a statewide conversation tied to our current theme. In 2020, during the second year of INseparable, we’ll read and discuss Jean Thompson’s The Year We Left Home, which offers a sweeping, multigenerational look at life in the Midwest over the past several decades. Read more about why we chose The Year We Left Home.

Applications to host One State / One Story programming will open in late summer/early fall 2019, for programs taking place in 2020. See below for an overview of what kinds of program support Indiana Humanities will offer as part of One State / One Story: The Year We Left Home.

Program Guide

Indiana Humanities’ Program Guide contains program ideas, reading and film lists, essays and more about Thompson’s The Year We Left Home. While this guide has been developed for Community Read program hosts, anyone can reference the guide for information and ideas about Thompson’s novel.

Community Read Grants

Up to 30 nonprofit organizations across the state will receive $750 to plan a program series about the book and its themes. Awarded institutions will receive funding, program support, up to 50 copies of the book and fun swag to build buzz about the programming. Applications are now closed.

Campus Read Grants

College and university faculty are invited to submit proposals for course development, program series and other campus events about The Year We Left Home and its themes. We’re particularly interested in supporting humanities courses and programming about contemporary midwestern identity as expressed in literature and film. Applications to host a Campus Read are now closed.

Call for Speakers

Indiana Humanities seeks humanities scholars and experts to give talks on the themes of Jean Thompson’s The Year We Left Home and related topics including the literature of the Midwest, the recent history of the Midwest, and contemporary Midwestern identity in literature and film.

Applications are now closed.

Weekend Retreat

The Weekend Retreat brings together passionate readers, curious Hoosiers and humanities experts for a two-day deep dive into our One State / One Story selection, The Year We Left Home. See pictures and read about the 2018 retreat here.

The fun begins on March 27 with a kick-off keynote lecture, followed by a cocktail hour and dinner party inspired by the book. On Saturday, we’ll enjoy a full day of stimulating talks exploring the literary and historical contexts of the novel, break-out book discussions, and plenty more themed snacks and drinks. Teachers and librarians are able to earn CEU/LEU credits.

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About the Book

The Year We Left Home follows the Erickson family through the many changes affecting American life at the end of the twentieth century. From city rooftops to country farms, college campuses to small-town main streets, the characters in Thompson’s novel search for fulfillment and happiness in an ever-changing, often alienating country. The story asks us to consider the enduring, uniting power of place—why we choose to leave and when we decide to come home.

About the Author

Jean Thompson is a novelist and short-story writer. Her works include the novels A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl, She Poured Out Her Heart, The Humanity Project, The Year We Left Home, City Boy, Wide Blue Yonder, The Woman Driver, and My Wisdom, as well as the short-story collections The Witch and Other Tales Re-Told, Do Not Deny Me, Throw Like a Girl, Who Do You Love (a National Book Award finalist), Little Face and Other Stories, and The Gasoline Wars. Thompson’s short fiction has been published in many magazines and journals, including the New Yorker, and anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize. Thompson has been the recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, among other accolades, and has taught creative writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Reed College, Northwestern University and other colleges and universities. She lives in Urbana, Illinois.


Contact Megan Telligman, program manager ( / 317.616.9409).