All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner ~ Review

My Review:

Susie Finkbeiner is a new author to me, so I didn't know what to expect. To be honest I almost didn't opt in to review this book, but I am so glad that I did.

It's 1967, Annie Jacobson's life is turned upside down when her older brother Mike enlists as a medic headed for Vietnam. Annie's long estranged father returns disrupting theirs lives while they are still trying to get used to Mike's absence. She and her family fight to stay strong and figure out what being a family means while they pray for Mike's safe return.

This isn't just a good book, it's the kind of book that completely absorbed me to the point where I forgot that I was reading. Annie is a compelling young woman coming of age in a tumultuous time, she tells the story through her point of view in a way that pulls you into the very book. The storytelling also includes various correspondences, some that Annie is aware of, and others that she is not, that help to fill in other areas of the story, widening it's depth.

Annie is a strong and discerning young woman, deeply loyal to her family and friends, deceptively average. All of the characters were so well developed and complex, I felt like I knew them and could see them in my mind. Mike, the All-American big brother, with a compassionate heart, who always somehow finds the right thing to say. Joel, somewhere between a boy and a man, still full of big dreams and hope. Annie's mother, Gloria, a woman who knows how to tackle a job with stiff upper lip, a fighter who will do anything for her children, but a terrible cook. Bernie, Annie's boss at the diner was probably my favorite. On the outside he is a grumpy middle aged man, devoted to his business, but he has a heart of gold and always is surprising in how he sees more than he is initially given credit for noticing. He is protective of Annie, and steps up in many ways that her father didn't, he isn't afraid to set her straight in his own blunt way. He is a godly man and his actions speak louder than his sparse words.

I loved how this book came alive for me, through the everyday struggles of life together Annie and her family learn to trust God more, it also shows how war can bring people together in odd ways through shared pain and hardship. The book breathes through the eyes of Annie, and in so many ways more is almost said in the quiet moments than in the moments of dialogue. This was a captivating read from beginning to end, I loved how the author used letters to let other characters have a turn at talking directly, and showing more of who they are. A novel that is nothing short of beautiful in its subtleties and deceptive simplicity that comes alive with complex well developed characters against a changing world. The author captured so much in little everyday, seemingly normal moments that brought tears to my eyes, I felt like I was living it right alongside Annie. I can't recommend this book enough!  A must read, that took me by surprise, riveted me to the page and didn't let go until the very end. One of my favorites this year!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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