Friday, May 26, 2017

Review: All the Best People by Sonja Yoerg

Title: All the Best People
Author: Sonja Yoerg
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Berkley Books
Publish Date: May 2, 2017
Source: Publisher

What's the Story?:

From "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."

My Two Cents:

"All the Best People" is the story of Carole, a woman living in the 1970s that starts to hear voices. Not only does this frighten her because she doesn't know what's going on but it also frightens her that she may end up like her mother. Her mother, Solange, has been locked away in a mental hospital for many years since right after the birth of Carole's younger sister Janine. Carole has to quickly grow up and becomes more of a mother to Janine than a sister. Carole is haunted by this and doesn't want to end up abandoning her children like she was effectively abandoned.

The book centers on three characters: Solange, Carole, and Carole's daughter, Alison (who often seems wise beyond her years). We meet Solange, a woman driven by love in a time where men still very much have power over women. Carole's father had Solange committed for reasons other than mental illness (more detail in the book - this detail makes for a real twist in the story). Carole is a committed mother who wants better for her children than she had being bounced around after her mother is committed. Alison is intuitive and knows there is something going on with her mother before Carole is ready to admit it. The characters are great and really draw you in. The author uses the characters to unwrap the secrets hidden in this family's past in a way that keeps you wanting to read on.

At its core, this book is about nature versus nurture. Can we overcome the things that we are born with? Do our conditions make us who we are? What if the conditions were different? I love how the author explores this them in a very subtle way that will make the reader think.

This book is also about relationships between mothers and daughters. Carole has no control over how her relationship with her mother is. She was so young when she was taken away and seems to have regrets about having so much responsibility thrust upon her when she is so young. Carole also blames her mother for her own diagnosis. When Alison feels her mother pulling away, she does everything to try to keep their close relationship going. I loved how the author was able to show these contrasts and also how events and time can shape these relationships. 

Overall, this was a good read!

1 comment:

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