4 out of 4 stars
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In All Things by Marta Curti is a literary fiction novel with whimsical aspects about a woman’s journey to feel grounded, find love, and a safe place for her son to grow up. Themes include: filling emptiness, spirituality, miracles, wings and feathers, secrets, and self-realization.
Penny Rose, a product of the foster care system, feels unlovable, disconnected, and filled with self-doubt. As an adult she desperately searches to find a connection after years of neglect and verbal abuse. Her heart opens after she finds out she is pregnant and capable of loving a tiny version of herself. During her pregnancy, she creates strong bonds and becomes part of the community, making her own family out of friends. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes in the form of a deadly illness and she must race against time to find a family suitable to raise her son.
The writing is stunning and lyrical with a poetic flow to the entire novel. Woven into the story is a skillful application of symbolism (especially surrounding birds, trees, heartbeats, nature, etc.,) used to maximize the artistic tone and heighten the depth of literary quality. Curti created a masterpiece of spirituality, finding beauty in tragedy, and the joy of connection. The whimsical nature of the novel stands out in the way the story unfolds using non-linear chronology but feels completely organic. The time jumps are always anchored with a sense memory that helps keep it cohesively embedded within the confines of the story.
Curti uses first person and third person point of view throughout the novel. It was an effective way to get around the limitations of first person narration, while still allowing the reader to maintain an intimate relationship with the characters. The brief moments of omniscience deepened the story and overall message; the shifts were subtly done and at times difficult to notice.
A lot of wisdom and philosophical musings are shared within the pages of this novel. The most poignant is death is not the problem, it’s the people that are left behind. In All Things is beautifully crafted and an all encompassing read. The senses are engaged at every turn and the descriptions are unique, leaving the reader tingling with recognition.
The criticisms about the book are minor and mainly concern plot-holes. Penny’s identity seems to be a mystery even to the reader. Her facial features, hair color, eyes, and race are all missing, which made it difficult to picture what she looked like. This could be because the focus was more on her feelings of self rather than her actual appearance. Ethnicity and race are used to only point out minorities without first establishing what Penny’s race is or why the ethnicities mattered in relation to her. The other issue is a side character’s ability to jump from teen dropout to educator, which felt forced and rushed, taking the reader out of this stunning magical world and making them compare it to real-world expectations. This was a brief side trip and did not take away from the overall story.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I enjoyed this book so much I read it twice. The first time I was in awe of the writing style and had a difficult time noting the technical aspects of the writing. I became completely submerged in this book and had a hard time articulating exactly what made it so engrossing, breathtaking, enchanting, authentic, and visceral. The second time I read it I was able to pay more attention to all the fine details that make this novel successful. The book is substantial; there is a lot to mull over, analyze, and discuss, which makes it a perfect book club selection. Warning to sensitive readers: this book does contain many forms of abuse and sexual violence. It is not told graphically but it is scattered throughout the book.
In All Things
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