Cover image for All the forgivenesses : a novel
Title:
All the forgivenesses : a novel
ISBN:
9781496720443
Edition:
1st Kensington hardcover ed.
Physical Description:
358 pages ; 22 cm.
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Summary:
Growing up on their hardscrabble farm in rural Kentucky, fifteen-year-old Albertina "Bertie" Winslow has learned a lot from her mama, Polly. She knows how to lance a boil, make a pie crust, butcher a pig, and tend to every chore that needs doing. What she doesn't know, but is forced to reckon with all too soon, is how to look after children as a mother should ...When Polly succumbs to a long illness, Bertie takes on responsibility for her four younger siblings and their dissolute, unreliable daddy. Yet no matter how hard she tries to hold the family together, the task is overwhelming. Nine-year-old Dacia, especially, is resentful and stubborn, hinting at secrets in their mama's life. Finally, Bertie makes the only choice she can - breaking up the family for its own survival, keeping the girls with her, sending the boys off to their grown brothers, long gone from home. Ever pragmatic, Bertie marries young, grateful to find a husband willing to take on the care of her sisters, and eventually moves to the oil fields of Kansas. But marriage alone cannot resolve the grief and guilt she carries over a long-ago tragedy, or prepare her for the heartaches still to come. Only by confronting wrenching truths can she open herself to joy - and learn how to not only give, but receive, unfettered love. --
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Summary

Summary

Growing up on their hardscrabble farm in rural Kentucky, fifteen-year-old Albertina "Bertie" Winslow has learned a lot from her mama, Polly. She knows how to lance a boil, make a pie crust, butcher a pig, and tend to every chore that needs doing. What she doesn't know, but is forced to reckon with all too soon, is how to look after children as a mother should ...

When Polly succumbs to a long illness, Bertie takes on responsibility for her four younger siblings and their dissolute, unreliable daddy. Yet no matter how hard she tries to hold the family together, the task is overwhelming. Nine-year-old Dacia, especially, is resentful and stubborn, hinting at secrets in their mama's life. Finally, Bertie makes the only choice she can-breaking up the family for its own survival, keeping the girls with her, sending the boys off to their grown brothers, long gone from home.

Ever pragmatic, Bertie marries young, grateful to find a husband willing to take on the care of her sisters, and eventually moves to the oil fields of Kansas. But marriage alone cannot resolve the grief and guilt she carries over a long-ago tragedy, or prepare her for the heartaches still to come. Only by confronting wrenching truths can she open herself to joy-and learn how to not only give, but receive, unfettered love.

Inspired by stories told by the author's mother and aunts, All the Forgivenesses is as authentic as it is lyrical-a captivating novel of family loyalty, redemption, and resilience.


Author Notes

Elizabeth Hardinger holds a BA in English from McPherson College and an MFA from Wichita State University. She lives with her husband in Eugene, Oregon, where she occasionally copyedits technical and academic books. All the Forgivenesses, her debut novel, draws on family lore about life in a tarpaper shack during the Kansas oil boom of the 1920s. Find the author on Twitter at Elizabeth Hardinger@ElizHardinger, and visit her website at elizabethhardinger.com.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

A strong protagonist is at the center of Hardinger's debut, an early-1900s tale of a resolute girl in a Midwestern family that's burdened with hardship. Bertie Winslow is a responsible, observant child with an emotionally absent mother and an alcoholic father who can only be relied on to cruelly tease his children. At nine years old, Bertie is forced to care for her sisters, baby Opal and 3-year-old Dacia, and by the time Bertie is 11, she also needs to tend to her depressed mother's new baby twins. Several years later, Bertie's mother becomes ill and dies, leaving Bertie in charge of four children. Because the family is poor and the father is often away on binges, the struggles Bertie must endure with housework and child rearing are nonstop, constantly testing her emotional fortitude. Bertie finally decides she must marry--she's fortunate to find a good man--and when they relocate from Missouri to Kansas, her one friend, Alta Bea, follows with her own new husband. The friendship is sometimes awkward, because Alta Bea is a modern thinker, but Bertie continually gains wisdom in all areas of her life. The characters in this story are vividly portrayed, with nuanced, complex personalities. The resilience and strength of the narrator will stay with readers long after they've finished. (Sept.)


Booklist Review

From a young age Albertina Bertie Winslow has had to take care of her younger siblings. The death of her brother Timmy, when Bertie is only six, is just the first in a long line of tragedies. When Bertie is 15, her mother dies and Bertie is left in charge of her two younger sisters and twin toddler brothers as well as her alcoholic father. When her two older brothers devise a plan to ease some of her burdens, Bertie resists and finds another solution to help her family. Luckily, the solution, marriage to the smooth-talking Sam, is not another tragedy. Although she is lucky in love, Bertie continues to be unlucky in life. The author pulls no punches detailing the hardships of life on a Kansas farm at the turn of the twentieth century. Bertie is a classic Midwesterner: tough, stubborn, and resilient. What starts out as a tale of hardscrabble historical fiction turns into an uplifting story of forgiveness and grace, and would be a good crossover for Christian fiction readers.--Lynnanne Pearson Copyright 2010 Booklist