FICTION

All the Forgivenesses

John Scognamiglio: Kensington. Aug. 2019. 368p. ISBN 9781496720443. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781496720467. F
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DEBUT Born in the late 19th century, Albertina “Bertie” Winslow is the oldest daughter of an impoverished family living in southeastern Kentucky. When Bertie is a teenager, her father Albert, decides to move the family to Missouri. There, Bertie’s mother, Polly, is depressed and rarely leaves her bed, Albert drinks to excess, and Bertie’s two older brothers venture out in search of work. When Polly dies, Bertie becomes the family matriarch, caring for her younger sisters Dacia and Opal, and twin brothers. As misfortune weighs down on Bertie, she decides to marry in order to provide for her younger siblings and finds a kind man in Sam. Shortly after their wedding, Bertie and Sam relocate to Kansas, making the difficult decision to leave the twin boys with Bertie’s older brother, and taking Dacia and Opal with them. Bertie and Sam hope for a chance at a better life in Kansas. Instead, Dacia reveals a long-held secret to Bertie that causes a rift between the sisters and reverberates to the next generation.
VERDICT This emotional story of deep hardship is told in Bertie’s distinct voice and is recommended for readers who enjoyed Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell and Jane Hamilton’s The Book of Ruth.

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