Monday, September 29, 2008

Review: Thank You for All Things

Summary: At twelve, Lucy Marie McGowan already knows she’ll be a psychologist when she grows up. And her quirky and conflicted family provides plenty of opportunity for her to practice her calling. Now Lucy, her “profoundly gifted” twin brother, Milo, her commitment-phobic mother, and her New Age grandmother are leaving Chicago for Timber Falls, Wisconsin, to care for her dying grandfather—a complex and difficult man whose failure as a husband and father still painfully echoes down through the years.

Lucy believes her time in the rural town where the McGowan story began will provide a key piece to the puzzle of her family’s broken past, and perhaps even reveal the truth about her own missing father. But what she discovers is so much more—a lesson about the paradoxes of love and the grace of forgiveness that the adults around her will need help in remembering if their family is ever to find peace and embrace the future.

By turns heart-wrenching and heart-mending, Thank You for All Things is a powerful and poignant novel by a brilliant storyteller who illustrates that when it comes to matters of family and love, often it is the innocent who force others to confront their darkest secrets. -- Bantam Discovery

A few months ago, my book club read THE BOOK OF BRIGHT IDEAS by Sandra Kring. All of agreed that it was a terrific book club discussion book, and we absolutely loved it! After I posted a summary of our meeting, Ms. Kring contacted me (I know, I almost died!) and asked if I would be willing to read her new novel, THANK YOU FOR ALL THINGS. I was positively thrilled -- I couldn't wait to tell my book club what I got in the mail!

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel; and I can definitely add Ms. Kring to my list of favorite authors. I liked a lot of things about this novel, but I have to say that I thought the characters were just wonderful. All of the characters in this novel are extremely memorable to me and will stay in my mind for quite awhile! Ms. Kring wrote the story of Lucy and her family from Lucy's point of view; and that's really made the book for me. Lucy was a very intelligent twelve year old whose insight into her family was incredibly perceptive. I thought Ms. Kring captured the essence of a pre-teen girl extremely well. I really felt like I had the chance to understand Lucy's feelings and "love" her as a result of reading the novel.

In addition to Lucy, I adored her "geeky" twin brother Milo whose intellect and cluelessness provided Lucy with some great material. Another wonderful character was Lucy's grandmother Lillian. Lillian was a very unique and spiritual woman who was into new-age healing -- she also provided some very funny moments. I loved the relationship between Lucy and Lillian -- they seemed to truly understand each other and almost be two parts of the same soul.

Lucy's mother Tess was also a wonderfully developed and very complex character. Although Tess wasn't always likable to me and seemed to be a little bitter, I eventually grew to understand and even appreciate her. Tess was carrying some major emotional baggage left over from various relationships in her life. Not only had she experienced some lost loves, including Lucy's and Mile's father; but she was also coping with some major issues with her father. In addition, there was a huge amount of resentment from Tess towards her mother Lillian that caused a lot of tension in every one's lives -- talk about mother/daughter relationship issues. Because the author kept many secrets about Tess and Lillian until the very end of the novel, I sometimes had a hard time accepting Tess (although I did appreciate what she tried to do as a mother.)

This book was very entertaining, but it also dealt with some very serious issues. Lucy's family goes back to Wisconsin to help Lucy's grandfather in his final days. What is an extremely sad and stressful time for any family becomes all the more horrendous since there are so many unresolved issues from every one's past. Once they go back "home," things really heat up! Tess is upset with her mother Lillian because she is helping her ex-husband who treated them all so terribly years ago. Lucy picks this time to decide that she wants to learn the identity of her father; however, Lucy's mother Tess isn't ready to deal with this. My heart went out so many times to Lucy because she so desperately wanted (and needed) a father figure. In addition, there are Tess' unresolved issues with her latest boyfriend as well as the huge resentment she carries towards her father. The author chose to deal with a lot of serious family dynamics in this book, but she still managed to make it entertaining as well as humorous.

I love how this book ends! I was pretty sure that I had figured out the "mystery," but I have to admit that the author managed to surprise me. All of the characters managed to learn some valuable lessons about themselves and become better people as a result. There were so many beautiful messages in the pages of this book such as hope, redemption, honesty, forgiveness, and healing. I actually couldn't put this book down. I loved all of the characters and was desperate to find out the big secret that occurred in Tess' past; but at the same time, I didn't want the story to end. As I neared the end of the book, I could just feel the tension rising between the characters -- it was like a musical score coming to a crescendo!

THANK YOU FOR ALL THINGS is available everywhere tomorrow -- September 30th -- for the amazing price of $5.99! That's quite the bargain for this highly entertaining book; and you should consider it for a future book club pick. You can even read an excerpt to get an idea of Ms. Kring's writing style. There is a reader's guide here, but you won't have any problems finding things to discuss. In addition, I think Ms. Kring makes herself available for author chats -- that might make your book club meeting very memorable!


Gwendolyn B. said...

I absolutely loved this book as well. It was the first time I've read anything by Ms. Kring, but she is now on my list of favorites. I enjoyed your review, as well.

Anonymous said...

I loved The Book of Bright Ideas, too. I didn't know she had a new book coming out, so I'll be on the lookout for it. Thanks for the review!

Michele said...

I loved Book of Bright Ideas and am excited to see this new book! Thanks for the review!

S. Krishna said...

This book sounds great! Wonderful review!

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

Sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out.

Anna said...

Great review! I might have to check out this book...I love surprise endings!


Booklogged said...

It's always exciting to hear from the author. I love that authors are turning to the everyday reader for their opinions.

Your review was lovely and very persuasive. I have to buy and read this book. The premise of a young girl who wants to be psychologist peaked my interest right away. Not because I ever wanted to be a psychologist, but it sounds like a great idea for a book.

Anonymous said...

I loved The Book of Bright Ideas and I'm definitely going to add this one to my list. (I always find such good books here!)