Friday, May 19, 2017

Review: All the Best People

Summary: An intricately crafted story of madness, magic and misfortune across three generations from the author of The Middle of Somewhere and House Broken…

Vermont, 1972. Carole LaPorte has a satisfying, ordinary life. She cares for her children, balances the books for the family’s auto shop and laughs when her husband slow dances her across the kitchen floor. Her tragic childhood might have happened to someone else.

But now her mind is playing tricks on her. The accounts won’t reconcile and the murmuring she hears isn’t the television. She ought to seek help, but she’s terrified of being locked away in a mental hospital like her mother, Solange. So Carole hides her symptoms, withdraws from her family and unwittingly sets her eleven-year-old daughter Alison on a desperate search for meaning and power: in Tarot cards, in omens from a nearby river and in a mysterious blue glass box belonging to her grandmother.

An exploration of the power of courage and love to overcome a damning legacy, All the Best People celebrates the search for identity and grace in the most ordinary lives. -- Berkley

I'll admit that I was a bit reluctant to pick up ALL THE BEST PEOPLE by Sonja Yoerg. I actually really like this author and her writing style, but I was concerned about the subject matter of the novel. It deals with mental illness and I had a grandmother who suffered from Alzheimers. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to handle a story about a mother gradually losing her mind, nevertheless one where that same character was concerned about inheriting her mother's illness.

However, I am happy to say that I did pick up ALL THE BEST PEOPLE, and I thought it was a very well written novel. That's not to say that I wasn't a bit uncomfortable at times with what was taking place, but the writing and character development were very well done... and it was worthwhile read.

ALL THE BEST PEOPLE tells the story of three generations of women. It takes place in 1972 in Vermont when Carole LaPorte is a mother of three who also helps her husband run their auto shop. She gradually realizes that her mind isn't what it used to be -- she's even hearing voices; and she's terrified that she's going to be locked into a mental hospital just like her mother Solange was many years ago. Carole's eleven year old daughter Alison is also extremely worried about her mother, and she ends up turning to some unconventional methods to help her cope.

ALL THE BEST PEOPLE is an insightful look into these three characters' lives that is guaranteed to touch reader's hearts... and make them think. The novel mainly goes back and forth between Carole's and Solange's stories, but there is also some focus on how Alison is handling everything. All in all, I felt as if the author did a good job in transitioning effortless between the characters' stories as well as the different time periods.

I was a bit surprised with how much these characters affected me. Of course, I couldn't help but be reminded at times of my grandmother, but Carole (and even Solange) were extremely real to me. And even little Alison made a way into my heart. I found the mother/daughter relationships in the story to be very real and very touching, and I loved the over-arching themes in the novel.

Another aspect of the novel that I really appreciated was how the secrets in the story were revealed. There were some moments of surprise in the book that caught me off guard (and also broke my heart); and I loved how I was so caught off-guard. However, as sad as this novel was for me, I did feel a sense of hope upon finishing the book... and maybe that's what I loved the most.

ALL THE BEST PEOPLE would make a terrific book club selection. There is a discussion guide in the back of the book, but I wasn't able to find a link to the questions. Some of the themes you might want to explore include the symbolism of water, secrets, mother/daughter relationships, class conflict, marriage, nature vs. nurture, magic, and more.

I truly enjoyed ALL THE BEST PEOPLE and I recommend it to fans of women's fiction.

Thanks to the author and publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

This sounds very emotional!