You guys, I can’t say enough about this book. It is SO good. Put it on your summer reading list. Put it on your June reading list. Yes, I know the month is almost over, but trust me. You won’t regret it 🙂
About the Book
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.
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There really are not enough words to accurately explain how much this story moved me and touched my heart. I sobbed dearing parts of it – and that can be kind of embarrassing when you’re in the lunch room, but oh well! It was so well written, beautifully thought out, and I personally found it so easy to connect with the characters. Finkbeiner has truly outdone herself with this one.
Families are complicated, even in the 1960’s they were complicated. The Jacobson’s were certainly no exception to this. They dealt with heartache, loss, brokenness, and so much more. Annie, Mike and Joel had such difficulties in their young lives, Annie especially. I knew something would have to happen to bring this family together, but I was surprised at how deeply I was moved while reading the road they traveled. Finkbeiner cuts right to the heart of their emotions and doesn’t hold back. I loved the letters amongst the chapters, that give you a glimpse into each character. It was the perfect way to include their POVs without writing a whole chapter and possibly confusing the readers. It made it more real, almost as if I was reading someone’s diary with these little letters taped inside.
War is difficult, and I think sometimes we forget how hard it is on the families left behind. I personally don’t have experience in this, however I could easily see myself responding like Annie’s mother did. But through it all, you see little glimmers of hope. I think one of the more intriguing storylines was that between Annie and David. Annie saw David as a person – which is not only how we should see each other, but how God sees each one of us. In a time were races were still divided, this was a beautiful reminder of that. Everytime they conversed I just smiled inside. Cheering for this unlikely pair, knowing the world was against them.
Make no mistake though, this really isn’t a love story. It’s more of a family survival story. How does a family survive all that the Jacobson’s go through? With help from above. I hope that is what everyone gets out of this book. To know that if we just look up, we can make it through anything. Even the tough parts of life. Forgiveness can occur. Second chances are real. There is light everywhere, you just have to look for it.
I highly recommend this book. I think it will appeal to all different types of readers. Have your tissues nearby – you’ll need them. And prepare yourselves – the Jacobson’s will become your family. They will be in your thoughts even after you finish. Probably long after.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
“My oma was a good woman. But I didn’t tell her that because I knew it would have embarrassed her. Besides, she would have turned it around, reminding me that she could do no good thing without God.”
“Within the pages of each book in the ring around us was a friend, fictional or not.”
“We can’t plan for it. What we have to do is keep going. We have to live today and then tomorrow and then the next day.”
“But I know that no matter what happens, God sees your fears and he knows your heart.”
“Behind the clouds the sun is shining. If only we have eyes to see it.”
About the Author
Susie Finkbeiner is a story junkie. Always has been and always will be. It seems it’s a congenital condition, one she’s quite fond of.
After decades of reading everything she could get her hands on (except for See the Eel, a book assigned to her while in first grade, a book she declared was unfit for her book-snob eyes), Susie realized that she wanted to write stories of her own. She began with epics about horses and kittens (but never, ever eels).
It takes years to grow a writer and after decades of work, Susie realized (with much gnashing of teeth and tears) that she was a novelist. In order to learn how to write novels, she read eclectically and adventurously (she may never swim with sharks, but the lady will jump into nearly any story). After reading the work of Lisa Samson, Patti Hill, and Bonnie Grove she realized that there was room for a writer like her in Christian fiction.
Her first novels Paint Chips (2013) and My Mother’s Chamomile (2014) have contemporary settings. While she loved those stories and especially the characters, Susie felt the pull toward historical fiction.
When she read Into the Free by Julie Cantrell she knew she wanted to write historical stories with a side of spunk, grit, and vulnerability. Susie is also greatly inspired by the work of Jocelyn Green, Rachel McMillan, and Tracy Groot.
A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl (2015), Finkbeiner’s bestselling historical set in 1930s Oklahoma, has been compared to the work of John Steinbeck and Harper Lee (which flatters Susie’s socks off). Pearl’s story continues with A Trail of Crumbs: A Novel of the Great Depression (2017) and A Song of Home: A Novel of the Swing Era (2018).
What does she have planned after that? More stories, of course. She’s a junkie. She couldn’t quit if she wanted to.