Title: Unexpected Gifts
Author: S.R. Mallery
Published: April 16th 2013
Publisher: Mockingbird Lane Press
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Length: 382 pages
Source: Paperback ARC from author
Book Blurb (via Goodreads):
Can we learn from our ancestral past? Do our relatives behaviors help mold our own? In Unexpected Gifts, that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, heading for addictions and forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family s diaries and journals from America s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys, linking yesteryear with modern life until finally, by understanding her ancestors’ hardships and faults, she gains enough clarity to make some right choices.
When I find a book that has historical elements woven into the plot, I get excited because I love a good historical fiction when it’s executed well. I was particularly intrigued to see how Mallery would weave the present with the past in her story.
Sonia is having trouble in her life. She’s confused about where things should be going and lost in what she should be doing. Her relationship plays on her mind constantly as she explores the past of her ancestors through major historical events as she learns a little lesson from each one that she can apply to her life in the present.
My favourite part of this story was definitely the historical flash backs. Reading about various events – such as Woodstock – was really interesting. I enjoyed seeing how the ancestor’s adventures all had a tie-in to what Sonia was struggling with at that particular time.
The problem I had with this story was that the historical flash backs were more interesting than the main story. For me, Sonia didn’t seem to want to learn anything from the stories that were presented to her. She constantly makes the same mistakes over and over. The dialogue was stinted and unnatural during Sonia’s scenes, which jolted me out of the story, especially after immersing myself in the historical times. I found myself looking forward to her ancestors’ pasts more than what was happening during Sonia’s moments.
While the story fell flat in its present moments, it shone for its look into the past. An entertaining insight into past significant events that will keep you glued to the pages and wanting to find out more. While there are lulls in the plot, they don’t stick out so much as to make you put the book down.
Worth checking out for fans of historical fiction. A great read to unwind to.
About the Author
S. R. Mallery has worn many hats in her life. Starting out as a classical/pop singer/composer, she moved onto the professional world of production art and calligraphy, followed by a long career as an award winning quilt artist/teacher and an ESL/Reading instructor. Her short stories have been published in descent 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller and Down In the Dirt. Unexpected Gifts is her debut novel. Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads, a collection, is due out late 2013.
*Picture and Biography from Goodreads