Kathryn Magendie's Reviews > Thank You for All Things

Thank You for All Things by Sandra Kring
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May 18, 09

it was amazing

Sandra Kring’s third novel, “Thank You For All Things,” holds within its pages themes and voices I love to read about: family, sacrifice, love, surprise, forgiveness, home, belonging, and relationships—particularly between mothers and daughters and fathers and daughters. Kring’s newest novel also has themes that are painful: family violence, human death and death of a dream, and betrayal. Kring doesn’t whitewash the secret dark side of family; however, she doesn’t grab readers by the throat with it, screaming at them to Listen! I have a point to make here. The focus of Kring’s novel more heavily relies on the characters and their quirks, their hopes, fears, and ideals, and the power of Family to shape who and what we become—whether it is to embrace, deny, or accept our pasts. With humor and love, even in the dark places, Kring doesn’t exhaust the reader, but instead delights.

A "character-driven" novel must deliver and indeed Kring does a beautiful job of bringing her characters to life, especially Lucy McGowan, the eleven-year-old narrator of “Thank You For All Things.” Although, despite Lucy’s intellect, at times I questioned the sophistication of her language and her views of the world around her, things that life and time usually bring instead of intelligence. That said, I went along for the ride, and as good writers will do, and Kring did, I mostly accepted Lucy’s voice and musings as Truth, and I owe this to Kring also allowing Lucy her child-side, that innocence that only a young girl who hasn’t fully lived her life, or born all life’s surprises (both good and bad), will possess.

More than anything, Lucy wants to find her father (since Lucy’s mother will not give up her secret, Lucy must create fathers from her imagination—maybe skater Scott Hamilton is her father, maybe her father donated sperm to a sperm bank, maybe…); alternatively, she longs for her mother to find happiness with family friend Peter, whom Lucy hopes will become her Father Figure—but only if she can find her real father’s identity first and ask his permission to love Peter. It doesn’t help matters that Lucy’s mother is not only silent about Lucy’s father, but she will not speak of her own father.

The secrets are slowly revealed when idealistic Lucy, her pessimistic mother, her quirky new-age grandmother, and Lucy’s super-gifted twin brother are forced to leave their apartment in the city to temporarily live in Lucy’s mother’s childhood home in a small town. There, Lucy’s grandfather lies dying, and long buried secrets bubble under the surface. As these secrets are discovered, they shatter Lucy’s dreams of not only what her Family is and was, but her dreams of what kind of men her father, and the grandfather she begins to love and accept, are. As the story and the secrets build, build, and then finally erupt, Lucy and her family are sucked into the vortex of a violent past; where one generation often follows another—unless the chains are broken and new choices are made.

Kring’s solid character development and storytelling all more than made up for any “editor’s musings” I had. I was engaged with her characters, in love with Peter, rooted for Lucy’s mother to let loose her anxiety, ached with Lucy as she discovered her grandmother’s and then her mother’s secret pasts, laughed at Lucy’s funny little brother and her eccentric Ommmm grandmother, felt all the hopes, dreams, disappointments, and at last, finally, the satisfying ending that I always love comes—one where I sigh with a smile and close the book, glad the author did not cheat me at the end. (review from R&T)
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04/01 marked as: read

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