Elizabeth's Reviews > Hello Loved Ones

Hello Loved Ones by Tammy Letherer
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's review
Jul 16, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: first-reads, family-drama
Read from July 23 to 25, 2012

Full disclosure: I got this book in a first-reads giveaway.

I may need to think about this book a little longer. The story takes place in Holland MI in 1968. Holland is something of a smaller town, I guess. I live in a town of about 5000 people right now. So it's sort of weird for me to decide if Holland in small or not in 1968. But it's not some boom metropolis. For the characters in the book it is also a religious community. (Dutch Reformed) All the characters are dealing with their faith in their own ways.

I think this is important to have in mind because looking at the characters through 2012 eyes they seem very naive and sheltered.

The story revolves around a mother and her three children ranging from 16 to 21. Her husband was a drunk and would beat her. Her only sun ran him off ten years earlier. The kids seem to feel not only natural resentment toward their father but also shame in the community and among their peers because of this. Sally, the youngest, doesn't hate her father as much because she was too young to remember much about him. And she is desperate to have him take her to the father/daughter dinner at church.

What follows is the revelation of family secrets--the discovery of biological parents, the moral failure of people were previously admired, the realization that expectations of perfection, and the conundrum of where do we do from here.

I'm not sure if I missed something at the end or if I just need to think about it more. Last night the ending felt satisfactory. This morning it gnaws at me. I am wondering if the family isn't continuing in the patterns in a way. I need to think about that. Isn't that good in a book? Can't give to many details about that one aspect. But overall, each character examines the concept of family and what that means. Let's face it, sometimes our closest family are the people who are not related to us by blood or marriage but by the emotional commitment and love,

I do recommend this one.
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Kelly I was rivited. I grew up in a small town of 1200 and can relate to the characters. Step-father was an alcoholic and my Mom was trying to raise 5 daughters - we didn't have much money - but we got along in our lives - some times better than others. I really related to all the kids and their anger and shame. In the end, I think they all came to the conclusion that you have to love people for who they are and who they aren't. Tammy is an incredible writer - looking forward to her next book with relish! [not pickle relish ;-)]

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