All the Best People

If you need a calendar, get the Book Lovers Page-A-Day one. It has some seriously good recommendations, like this Sonja Yoerg novel. Plus tearing off the pages is strangely exciting.

Carole lives an ordinary life– she does the books for her husband’s business, while raising her three kids, and visiting her mother as often as she can. But she starts to forget things, and hear voices that aren’t there. She knows that there is something going on, although she is afraid to tell anyone about it. She doesn’t want to end up like her mother, put away in the town “loony bin”.

Alison, Carole’s youngest child and only daughter, notices that something is wrong with her mother. She attempts to use tarot cards and spells to help her, but it doesn’t succeed. All Alison knows for sure is that her mom is no longer the same woman, and nobody will listen to her when she tries to tell them something isn’t right.

The book is split into parts, and part two is all about Solange, Carole’s mother. She grew up in a poor family of “pirates”– river dwellers, who lived on house boats with their extended families. Solange marries Osborn, who comes from a wealthy family. They are never quite able to put their differences aside, despite their love. Osborn wants to succeed in his career even if it means shunning where Solange is from. Solange won’t see her family mistreated for things out of their control. Having Carole was supposed to fix the rift between them, but even love for their daughter is insufficient. When Solange makes a choice that hurts her family, Osborn responds by taking Carole from her mother completely.

There are additional plot lines and twists in this book, and it all comes together in the end in ways I didn’t always expect. The characters are well written and likable (most of them, anyway).

I don’t pretend to know a lot about mental illness, but reading about Carole helped me see what it might be like. Sonja Yoerg writes Carole’s thoughts in such a way that you can see where she seems to be “losing it”– she realizes that her thoughts are not as clear as they once were, and they don’t make sense to her, but she’s powerless to stop them. She feels her mind deteriorating.

This is a good family story, and a story about how our choices can impact us. And it has a relatively happy ending, which never hurts.

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