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on April 18, 2013
"An Uncommon Family" is about just that - a six year-old girl who lost her mother in a car crash and still has nightmares about it, her aunt who survived a failed marriage and remains bitter and distant in her relationships with men, and an artist whose marriage ended in the tragic death of his wife. The story is about the intertwining of their lives from when Karla, the young girl, is six until her twelfth birthday. At the outset, she and Anna, her aunt and guardian, by chance, encounter Jonas, the artist, who offers to give Karla art lessons. From there, the relationships develop between Karla and Jonas, Karla and Anna, and Anna and Jonas in a steady, deliberate, and delicate way that I appreciated greatly.

Set primarily in Switzerland, the book has a nice local flavor that complements the story well and is interjected unobtrusively at various points as the plot moves forward. In terms of point of view, the story is seen through the eyes of the three main characters and, as such, the narrative is superb. This book is no lightweight by any means. The main themes of the story are trust, betrayal, honesty, loss, and love. Applicable in some degree to each of the three, the handling and development of these themes was top notch.

If you like stories of ordinary people thrown together into uncommon situations, I know you will enjoy this book as much as I did. I recommend it highly and look forward to reading Polkinhorn's next installment.
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on February 13, 2012
I read Love of a Stonemason first so I had very high expectations for An Uncommon Family. I was so pleased when An Uncommon Family not only met, it exceeded them. This book is a love story about multiple types of loving relationships. The interactions between Karla, Anna, and Jonas make for fascinating reading because the writing and editing are so good. All the characters, both major and minor, have well-developed, three-dimensional personalities. The imagery is beautifully done throughout the book, but the scene where Karla and her friend, Maja, go to the top of a hill in order to see their mothers in heaven, is simply outstanding. The part where Jonas confessed his secret about his Nazi uncle had me in tears but I still think that Anna was too harsh. All my emotions were engaged as I read this story; it was a wonderful reading experience. i highly recommend that other people read it also.
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on April 27, 2015
I’m in love with Switzerland, because I think this is the closest place to Paradise we have on Earth, so I enjoyed tremendously reading a novel set there. But there are a lot more things I love in this book; for example, the characters are totally real for me, the way they feel and talk, the problems they have getting rid of the past, make them alive. And also I love the style, which flows easily through the whole story. I highly recommend this book! And also visiting Switzerland!
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on July 27, 2015
Simple, sweet. It was a very enjoyable read. It is somewhat predictable, but still an enjoyable read. I was looking to read a pleasant, no intrigue book and this fit the bill. I look forward to reading the others in the series.
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on November 24, 2014
What a lovely book. Although the main character was a child, the many issues that were dealt with were extremely interesting. The author has an amazing insight into human responses and interactions. I highly suggest reading it.
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on July 9, 2011
Six-year-old Karla lost her mother in a car crash and now lives with her aunt Anna, who years before had lost her husband in a plane crash, immediately after learning of a life-altering betrayal. By chance one day in Zurich, they meet artist Jonas Bergman, who had lost his beloved wife to cancer.

Karla begins to take art lessons from Jonas, and over the years, a relationship forms between Anna and Jonas, but each character's past threatens to destroy the love they are building.

This was a very warm and charming story that really made me want to root for the characters. The flow of the story was very natural and each character's struggle to reconcile their past made sense and was quite relatable.

Aside from Anna and Jonas' respective stories, I found Karla's coming-of-age to be quite charming, and I loved the interaction between Karla and her best friend Maja. The author did an excellent job of writing an authentic character and describing her relationship to the world (and those close to her) as it evolved with each passing year.

"An Uncommon Family" is a feel-good story that was a pleasure to read. I very much look forward to reading "Love of a Stonemason" so that I can find out what happened to Karla when after she grew up. I know I'm in for a treat!
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on March 25, 2016
Very enjoyable. Great back story also. I am so glad there is a second book in this series. I highly recommend this book.
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on March 21, 2012
I spent the past two days reading Christa Polkinhorn's poignant novel, AN UNCOMMON FAMILY. The book tells the story of Anna, an emotionally cautious woman who becomes the guardian of her sister's young daughter, Karla, after the girl's mother dies. Aunt and niece forge a bond of mutual sorrow, but it's their serendipitous encounter with an artist, Jonas, a widower with losses of his own, that finally allows Anna and Karla to set aside their grief and embrace life again.

Set in Switzerland with scenes in New York and Mexico, the book offers a well-drawn visual landscape. The author also vividly describes the paintings of Jonas and the emerging talent of Karla who becomes his pupil. Yet Polkinhorn's main strength is her ability to mine complex human emotions and interactions. Her characters are flesh-and-blood people who jump off the page, and she makes the reader care deeply about their past and future choices. The minor characters, such as Karla's mischievous pal Maja and Jonas's nosy landlady, Mrs. Schatz, add texture and spice--and occasional comic relief.

Ultimately, the novel reminds us there are many ways to create a family. Polkinhorn's book really touched my heart (and at times made me cry), and I recommend it highly! I look forward to reading more of this gifted author's work.
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on April 20, 2016
I thoroughly enjoyed it and cant wait to start the next book.
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on February 11, 2012
This was a delightful and fantastic read. The characters and story came to life on each page. The descriptions of the scenes were detailed enough so I could see them easily in my mind's eye. It is a perfect book to curl up with indoors.
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