Book Reviews

Book Review: In All Things by Marta Curti

 

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This book was reviewed for Online Book Club

 

*Click here to visit the OnlineBookClub page for this book.

 

Curti’s In All Things is a beautiful testament to the interconnectedness of life, and how the vagaries of life are not as random as we think. The narrative jumps between three different perspectives, in a nesting fashion. At first, the jump in perspective is disconcerting, as it is left to the reader to suss out the speakers. It is but a momentary confusion though, and later jumps are expected and flow smooth.

 

This is, above all, the story of a woman named Penny Rose, an orphan who gets shuffled to various foster homes. Her last foster, a woman named Anelle, fed into Penny’s already insecure psyche, crushing her sense of self-worth. All Penny wants is to be loved, and she decides the only way to achieve this is through bearing a child. She has no interest in a husband, and expects nothing from the father if her child.

 

Her fetus is diagnosed early on with an irregular heartbeat, – thump, shuffle, swish, thump- a bird-like frantic thudding. He also appears to harbour the hidden gift, even in utero, of drawing forth secrets in visions from people his mother touches. This gift allowed many people to become unburdened from heavy weights, for neither mother nor child held any judgement. Thus do we, through Penny and August, become privy to the secrets of Peter, a man suffering brain damage, and Joe and Alice, a couple with an extraordinary past. These people become Penny, and later August’s family. They were there for his birth, and shared many wonderful days together.

 

Sadly, all things pass into something other, and soon enough this tiny family is shattered. This is followed by a terminal diagnosis for Penny. In trying to secure a safe family for August, we learn the secrets of Penny’s co-workers, who prove to be not a match, and witness a beautiful reunion between Penny and a man she believed lost to her, yet who is so intimately connected to her that they meet time and again.

 

Themes of time, interconnectedness, birds, and beauty run throughout this hauntingly poignant narrative. Birds are a physical representation of the rest. Such beauty do they bring to the world in their often short lifetimes. Yet others, like albatross and parrots, can oft outlive humans. This novel illustrates the fact that beauty can be found anywhere, even in the most terrible and trying of circumstances and environments. It illustrates as well my favourite phrase, ‘Auguries of destruction be a lullaby for rebirth.’ All death, physical or psychological, spiritual or mental, is the opportunity for new growth. It is up to us to embrace that growth and not choke it off.

 

I found it beautiful how Penny learned she was worthy of love. And how she, and her unborn son helped so many people come to terms with things they needed to face in order to move in in life, and hopefully grow from it. The ‘Beautiful Things’ game was wonderful. My cubs and I have started keeping a Diary of All Things Beautiful, like August’s. They love adding to it. It is a great ‘game’ for learning to be grateful.

 

????? Highly recommended if you like books such as Stephen King’s Hearts in Atlantis, or Green Mile.

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