Unexpected Gifts by S.R. Mallery
Publication Date: April 16, 2013
Mockingbird Lane Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher/author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review
Can we learn from our ancestral past? Do our relatives’ behaviors help mold our own? In "Unexpected Gifts," that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, heading for addictions and forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family’s diaries and journals from America’s past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys, linking yesteryear with modern life until finally, by understanding her ancestors' hardships and faults, she gains enough clarity to make some right choices.
Unexpected Gifts sounded like it had potential, so I agreed to read it for review. I honestly didn't know how well the premise would work out, but it did intrigue me. I have to state right off that I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I am into family history and have researched my own genealogy and if someone had given me treasures like Sonia's mother showed her, I would have been in heaven.
Sonia is obviously troubled and at the start of the book, is incapable of seeing her choices for how bad they actually were. As a psych major, you would think she would have a better grip on her own issues, but for much of the book she is in denial. However, one particularly bad night for her parents starts her on a path to discover her family's history - starting with her own parents.
I really loved how Sonia is able to see her parents lives differently once she gets the chance to read their letters and/or diaries. I found myself so caught up in their lives that when the book switches back to Sonia, I was a little upset because I wanted to read more. Actually, with each generation, I was equally captivated by their stories - the good, the bad, the triumphs, the struggles, and especially the history.
Fortunately, Sonia is able to find out the real problems and issues her ancestors dealt with and could see some of their traits in herself. Reading about the mistakes her ancestors made and the consequences of them seems to work as a wake-up call for Sonia and she is able to break some of the cycles of bad decisions.
I enjoyed Unexpected Gifts so much - for a variety of reasons. I loved the look at each historical period and the depictions of the families within each period. Sonia was so obviously in need of some type of intervention, and the look through her family history seems to have been just the thing. I will be suggesting this book to all my friends and can recommend it to anyone interested in U.S. history in particular, genealogy or historical fiction.
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Praise for Unexpected Gifts
“S.R. Mallery has caught the defining moments in the lives of one working class, upward striving family, as each one of them benefits from and contributes to the growth and setbacks of America itself…A rich and involving book, the author has written a gem. –Dorothy Salisbury Davis, A Gentle Murderer, Lullaby of Murder, The Pale Betrayer, etc.
“S.R. Mallery, with her strong sense of history and deft narrative skills, shows us one American family’s fascinating journey through flashpoints of American history, as a modern day young woman discovers the spirited narratives of her forbears, and is inspired to take charge of her own life…. an impressive, wonderfully thought out and well-told first novel.” –Carla Davidson, former Senior Editor at American Heritage Magazine
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About the AuthorS.R. Mallery has worn various hats in her life.
First, a classical/pop singer/composer, she moved on to the professional world of production art and calligraphy. Next came a long career as an award winning quilt artist/teacher and an ESL/Reading instructor. Her short stories have been published in descant 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller, and Down In the Dirt.
"Unexpected Gifts", her debut novel, is currently available on Amazon. "Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads", her collection of short stories, Jan. 2014, both books by Mockingbird Lane Press.
For more information please visit S.R. Mallery's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
Unexpected Gifts Blog Tour ScheduleMonday, September 1
Review at Bookish
Review at Unshefish
Wednesday, September 3
Review at Reading Room Book Reviews
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Thursday, September 4
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Friday, September 5
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Monday, September 8
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, September 9
Review at Beth's Book Reviews
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Thursday, September 11
Review at Book Nerd
Friday, September 12
Review at A Book Geek
Spotlight at From the TBR Pile
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time