Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Book Review: All the Winters After by Seré Prince Halverson

I seldom read books set so far afield as Alaska, so this was a refreshing change of pace. (Also I had just come back from an Alaskan cruise. I started this on the flight home.) Alaska is very much part of this book. It could have taken place in other far-flung remote areas, but not many.

Two parallel stories start us off. Kache moved to Austin, TX and never returned to his hometown of Caboose, Alaska. When he was a teenager about to go to college, after an argument with his father, he stayed home while the rest of the family went on a trip. Their plane crashed and his parents and brother were all killed. Twenty years later, he needs to finally see the old homestead his grandparents had built. His grandmother is ailing, his aunt Snag needs help. He goes home.

Meanwhile, Snag told Kache that she'd kept up the homestead but she'd also never gone back even though she'd stayed in the town. She was worried Kache found find it falling down and know she'd betrayed his trust.

But, a woman has been living there. Nadia grew up in a Russian orthodox old society community and married very young to a bad man. She left her home, her family, her community, and has been squatting in Kache's family home for many years.

How will these people come together, how will old wounds finally be healed? This book was slow going at first but it really grew on me. I really felt for all of them and how their lives went off the rails. Granted, there wasn't much reason for any of this to get dragged out for twenty years. Much of the problems could have been worked out with simply some honest conversations ages earlier. But then, that's not the point of the book. People often do just clam up and they don't trust others to behave honorably with their vulnerability. In the end, it was a touching and honest story that felt real and truthful, about family secrets, troubled pasts, and raw emotion.

I got an ARC of this book for free at Winter Institute, from the publisher.

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