The German word zugunruhe translates as the “stirring before moving.” It’s used to describe birds and herds of animals, like wildebeests, before the great migration. Though Jules Torti is neither German nor a wildebeest, she understands this marrow-deep anxiousness all too well; she is just someone looking for a home.
Free to a Good Home is evidence of Torti’s life-long commitment to feeling at home where it mattered most: within herself. At eighteen, with one thousand dollars in her bank account, she moved to the West Coast from Ontario to find “her people.” She headed specifically to Davie Street—that’s where all the gays were! Finding a girlfriend proved to be elusive, but she learned a lot of Pet Shop Boys lyrics and studied everything by Jane Rule and Chrystos for guidance.
Torti continued searching. Whether prepping chimpanzees breakfast in the Congo, searching for her own breakfast in the dumpsters of Vancouver’s back alleys or seeking a permanent address in Ontario’s unforgiving real estate market—with many other worldly adventures in between—Torti found that homesickness took up its own residence in her identity. While she longed for a home of bricks and mortar (or log or stone), she knew her greatest sense of home was to be found in a person, the missing her.
For many, the path to home is never linear. If Torti began her memoir in Amsterdam, you might not follow. If she began in Uganda, you might get it. If she started with her time spent in the soggy Costa Rican jungle, you’d have a better understanding. But, if she scrolled back to her tomboy self at age six, then you’d see. Logically, this is where she begins her memoir of emotional geography: on an unpaved country side road in Southwestern Ontario, among the corn and tobacco-fringed fields of Mount Pleasant, where she grew up. At turns poignant, hilarious and uncannily familiar, Free to a Good Home explores what it means to call a place home when life oddly mirrors a choose-your-own-adventure storybook.
“[Torti] has a keen ability to weave stories together using self-deprecating humour, touching reflections, and colourful descriptions. Her transient nature and curiosity for places unknown is best captured in the title, but her constant self-awareness and strive for self-improvement is the space between each wave that rolls off the page. In short, she has a strong command of storytelling.”