Coming Home: A Roadmap from Fearful to Fully Alive

By Layla Palmer

Bethany House Publishers, 2023

Trade cloth: $29.99

Genre: Christian Living/Personal Growth

Reviewed by Lisa Harrison

Cover image of Coming Home by Layla Palmer features a table holding an open book in front of a house

If your New Year’s resolutions include embracing a cozier lifestyle, you will enjoy Coming Home: A Roadmap from Fearful to Fully Alive by popular decorating and lifestyle blogger Layla Palmer. Part scrapbook, part journal, part commonplace book, Coming Home is a compendium of self-care practices rooted in the author’s Alabama upbringing with its focus on family, home cooking, and nature. The book blends aspects of cottagecore, hygge, and Southern comfort aesthetics and takes its conception from Palmer’s experiences living with clinical anxiety.

In a series of essays punctuated with inspirational quotes, illustrations, and photos, Palmer relates stories in which she experienced anxiety and describes how she dealt with her feelings in the moment. Examples include having a middle-of-the-night panic attack that necessitated a morning trip to the doctor, becoming uncomfortable in a stalled check-out line, and succeeding in making a long road trip. She also describes cozy centering practices that all readers will enjoy implementing. including mindful cooking of comfort food, reading, spending time in nature, creative practices, and being open to fascination and wonder. Recipes for spaghetti, lemon icebox meringue pie, and pumpkin mocha coffee cake, among others, tempt readers to an afternoon in the kitchen, while a book list provides soothing intellectual fodder to be enjoyed with a snack.

Family forms a central theme of the book. Layla and her husband, Kevin, share two adopted children. The differing adoption stories highlight their unique challenges and rewards, including enduring airplane trips, setbacks, and uncertainty. Both stories highlight the author’s learned ability to take on permanent commitments despite fear of the unknown and to blossom amid her newfound connections. A chapter about how Kevin’s mother came to live with the family stresses the importance of coming “home” by welcoming others into one’s literal space, as well as being present to others and accommodating their needs, even if not sharing actual living conditions. Contributions from Kevin himself, featured in sidebars, offer additional perspective on the events related, on dealing with anxiety. and on comforting practices to manage stress.

Coming Home is beautifully designed. The hardcover features sturdy sewn signatures and a handy ribbon bookmark. Photography by Layla and Kevin (with cover photo by Kyyle Campbell) evoke the Southern cottage home aesthetic. The interior, designed by William Overbeeke, evokes scrapbooks with sticky note images and photo corners, and images of pressed flowers, while woodcut-style designs call to mind the cottagecore aesthetic. The bucolic images blend well with the conversational text. Chatty, informal, personal, the essays are as warm as a heart-to-heart talk with a close friend. The significance of the author’s faith to her experiences is gently woven throughout. An artful blend of text and design make this a good keepsake book, to be consulted regularly for tips and inspiration.

For those who experience anxiety, Coming Home provides an additional set of coping and self-care resources to accompany medical and/or psychiatric care. The author mentions her own experience with medicine and therapy, but also stresses that mind-body techniques and old-fashioned comfort are also important means to healing. For those who enjoy the popular cottage and comfort trends, the book is a welcome addition to the “cozy” genre.

Layla Palmer is a writer/designer and the founder of the popular The Lettered Cottage blog and social media. Her photography and interior design work have been featured in HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Good Housekeeping.

Lisa Harrison is an avid reader who spent 15 years in the book publishing industry. When not curled up with a cup of tea, a book, and a rescued cat or two (or more), she enjoys all varieties of needle crafts.