Summary: Justin Kramon’s debut novel, Finny, is a sweeping, enchanting voyage, an insightful story about a young woman’s complicated path to adulthood.
We meet Finny Short as an observant, defiant fourteen-year-old who can’t make sense of her family’s unusual habits: Her mother offers guidance appropriate for a forty-year-old socialite; her father quotes Nietzsche over pancakes. Finny figures she’s stuck with this lonely lot until she meets Earl Henckel, a boy who comes from an even stranger place than she does. Unhappy with Finny’s budding romance with Earl, her parents ship her off to Thorndon boarding school. But mischief follows Finny as she befriends New York heiress Judith Turngate, a girl whose charm belies a disquieting reckless streak.
Finny’s relationships with Earl and Judith open her up to dizzying possibilities of love and loss and propel her into a remarkable adventure spanning twenty years and two continents. Justin Kramon has given us a wickedly funny odyssey with a moving and original love story at its core.
Finny introduces us to an unforgettable heroine, a charmingly intricate world, and an uncommonly entertaining and gifted young novelist. -- Random House
If you follow my blog much, you probably know that I absolutely love coming-of-age stories! There is just something about these types of books that appeal to me and warm my heart. Well, I am so happy to say that I recently "discovered" another fantastic one called FINNY by Justin Kramon. I really enjoyed this novel, and I hope that it's going to be a big hit this summer with both readers and book clubs!
FINNY is a coming-of age story, but it's unlike any other one that I've read. In fact, I think FINNY is a very unique story -- one that I found rather refreshing. The author's writing style is definitely distinct (and I really liked it!); and presentation of the characters' lives is original. It has been a week or so since I've finished the book, and this novel has stayed in my thoughts. I might go so far as to say that I've even grown to appreciate FINNY more now that I've let the book stew around in my mind.
While I really enjoyed FINNY, I have to admit that I'm having a difficult time writing this review. What I found so interesting about this novel is that there isn't one or two specific things that stood out for me -- I just thought everything worked really well. So much of this book is worth mentioning, but I'll try to feature a few of the highlights for me.
Probably the most wonderful thing about this novel was the character of Finny. I just adored her! Finny was an extremely complex character who had her fair share of flaws, but I couldn't help but be drawn into her life. At times, I laughed with her and other times I wanted to wring her neck; however, throughout the entire novel, I rooted for her and desperately wanted to her find some peace and happiness. I especially loved seeing how much she learned and eventually evolved over the twenty years covered in this book.
In addition to Finny, I thought there were many great (and very interesting) characters in this novel. Of course, I liked her love interest Earl; although like Finny, there were times when I wanted to shake him. And, I also loved Earl's father and his wife as well as Finny's brother. However, there was one character in particular that I found extremely interesting -- Finny's best friend Judith. On the outside, she appeared to have it all -- smarts, beauty, wealth, confidence, etc.; but in reality, Judith was a troubled girl (and eventually young woman.) I think what I most appreciated about these supporting characters (and especially Judith) is how they all affected Finny. Through the ups and downs of Finny's relationships, she learned not only a great deal about her family and friends, but also (and more importantly) herself.
Another pleasant surprise for me is that this novel covers about twenty years of a young girl's life, yet it was written by a man. I'm always a little shocked when a man can write about a woman with so much depth and feeling. Finny was a pretty unique child (and eventually young woman), so I think there was a little lee-way for the author in portraying a realistic female character. However, I was extremely impressed with how Mr. Kramon created and portrayed Finny.
I also loved how the author effectively incorporated so much humor into this novel. And much of the humor was out-of-the-ordinary -- from characters with zany traits, to hilarious scenes during sad times in Finny's life, to the general ironies that can occur every day! Finny's life was kind of like a roller coaster ride, but the author managed to keep parts of this novel light with his unique brand of humor. I definitely enjoyed being caught off-guard with how Mr. Kramon used humor in his novel.
FINNY is just a wonderful novel for book clubs to discuss. Not only is it a very entertaining story because of the unique cast of characters, but there are many universal themes would would be interesting to explore. There is a reading guide available for FINNY which delves into some very thought-provoking questions. Some of the topics include growing up, family dynamics, romantic love, friendship, and hope. In addition, Mr. Kramon seems to be a big fan of book clubs and he even offers to meet with groups (either in-person on via Skype.)
If you are looking for a very special book that will entertain you and make you think, then I highly recommend FINNY. It truly is a very unique book!
Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of his novel.