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All the Best People Paperback – May 2, 2017
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Praise for All the Best People
“Not just the best people, but real people: authentic, quirky and troubled. I cared for them all."—Chris Bohjalian, author of The Sleepwalker and The Guest Room
“Beautifully rendered and aching in its portrayal of a mother’s slide into mental illness—destined to be a book club favorite.”—Christopher Scotton, author of The Secret Wisdom of the Earth
“Yoerg spins the story of a family on the brink of collapse—writing with tenderness, grace, and truth.”—Randy Susan Meyers, bestselling author of Accidents of Marriage
“A powerful and haunting novel about betrayal and shame, acceptance and unconditional love. Book clubs will devour it.”—Barbara Claypole White, bestselling author of The Perfect Son and Echoes of Family
"A stirring tale of mothers and daughters, their secrets and their strength…a mesmerizing read."—Lynda Cohen Loigman, author of The Two-Family House
"Gorgeously written and unforgettable, your heart will break and swell in equal measure."—Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year
"The character development is superb...A perfect selection for book clubs."—Historical Novel Society
About the Author
Sonja Yoerg, the author of The Middle of Somewhere and House Broken, grew up in Stowe, Vermont, and earned her Ph.D. in Biological Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley. Her nonfiction book about animal intelligence, Clever as a Fox, was published in 2001.
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Top customer reviews
Many people are unaware of Vermont's poverty; it currently has the dubious distinction of being the second poorest state in the country. In the 1930s when part of the story takes place, prejudice against Lake Champlain boat dwellers, pejoratively called Pirates, was rampant. When Solange, a Pirate girl, eloped with Osborn, his wealthy Protestant family made no effort to hide its displeasure.
The book addresses the economic divide which continues to prevail across America. Carole's preteen daughter, attempting to buy just the right blouse for $5.99, made me terribly sad. She wished only to fit in with her wealthier schoolmates. How does a hardworking but poor father explain to his daughter that he can spare no money for her school wardrobe, which includes her first bra?
The book brilliantly tackles mental illness and the eugenics movement prominent in the 1930s. Confinement to an asylum was a life sentence for most patients. They were often treated like lab animals and had no rights. Treatment of the mentally ill is shown to have evolved, but despite humane doctors, those afflicted fear stigmatization and often try to conceal their symptoms. This storyline is incredibly powerful.
Meticulous research went into this book. The story is also adeptly layered, making it complex but not complicated. Nothing is left to chance, and there are no unresolved loose ends. All the Best People can be summed up in one word: wonderful.
I really liked Sonja Yoerg's latest book. The author places her characters in her beautiful hometown state of Vermont in this family-driven look at mental illness, betrayal and secrets. I loved her characters, Solange, Carole and Alison, (while Janine was a lot harder to love.) The story is told in three parts, with most of the "family history" in part two. There are themes of betrayal and loss, and mental illness and heartbreak. The men in the story, Osborn, Walt, Warren and Lester each had their place and personalities. Walt was my favorite with his kindness and loyalty to Carole. The descriptions of Carole's illness and how it was affecting her were so well drawn, I felt her desperation and confusion so clearly. Janine, Carole's sister never really redeemed herself and in fact she was unapologetic and selfish and manipulative.
Favorite quote: "Each time someone recognized her and shared a memory, she remembered pieces of herself she'd buried or cast aside. It was if a part of her, a substantial part, existed in these people, in their memories and in their hearts."
(What Solange felt when she was among her people, her family.)
Sonja Yoerg writes beautifully, spinning her tale through time and different sets of eyes. It is a sad but hopeful book. If you have ever loved anyone with a mental illness or if you have a mental illness, I think you will find your life somewhere in these pages. The parson falsely accused, the person experiencing terrifying hallucinations, the daughter desperate to save her mother, the daughter desperate to distance herself from her "crazy" mother -- the characters are compelling and well wrought.
Most recent customer reviews
Learned about mental illness from different perspectives