When Annie Jacobson's brother Mike enlists as a medic in the Army in 1967, he hands her a piece of paper with the address of their long-estranged father. If anything should happen to him in Vietnam, Mike says, Annie must let their father know.
In Mike's absence, their father returns to face tragedy at home, adding an extra measure of complication to an already tense time. As they work toward healing and pray fervently for Mike's safety overseas, letter by letter the Jacobsons must find a way to pull together as a family, regardless of past hurts. In the tumult of this time, Annie and her family grapple with the tension of holding both hope and grief in the same hand, even as they learn to turn to the One who binds the wounds of the brokenhearted.
Author Susie Finkbeiner invites you into the Jacobson family's home and hearts during a time in which the chaos of the outside world touched their small community in ways they never imagined.
All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I love historical fiction novels because they tell of times and events that I didn't actually experience and I always learn something new. As I read All Manner of Things I realized that for many readers this might be considered historical fiction but for me...it was more like a journal of my youth. It covers the months from June 1967 through the Spring of 1968 and author Susie Finkbeiner has completely captured that time in America. A young man enlisting to fight in the Vietnam War and a family left behind was an all too familiar subject for my generation. As I read Mike Jacobson's decision to volunteer before being drafted and his family's determination to change his mind, I was reminded of so many families that faced this same dilemna. After his departure teenager Annie Jacobson writes to her brother and she fills her letters with news from their Michigan home and it is very apparent in her words of encouragement and comfort that she truly loves her brother. In Mike's letters to his younger sister we imagine his worry and his fear that he won't return home; we can feel how he alternates between being optimistic and being aware that, if his death should occur, it would devastate his family. One of his letters is especially poignant. Mike expresses his concern that he may come home with the mental issues that their father suffered after serving in Korea. He tells his sister 'The things we see, Annie they're enough to make anybody a little nutty. We weren't made for this. I can't believe that God created us for all this death and destruction. War wasn't his idea. I'll bet he hates it more than I do, even.' Powerful words that explain why so many veterans have never recovered from their service!
This story offers a realistic look at the struggles families often experience and their realization that hopes and dreams don't always play out as they thought they would. It touches on the ugliness of war and the wounds, both mental and physical, that follow the soldiers home and plague their loved ones long after the fighting is over. It is also a testament to the strength of courage and determination and it offers the promise that hope and love will help us overcome. As Mike tells Annie in another letter 'Whatever happens over here, even with a war exploding all around my ears and death everywhere I look, I know that God is with me. Everything is going to be all right. I just know it.'
All Manner of Things is the first book that I've read by Susie Finkbeiner and it is exquisitely written. I cannot say enough good things about this book!
I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and I have chosen to write this review. These are my honest opinions.
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