Last week I introduced you to the Tall Poppy Writers, so here is one of my favourite Poppies, and her new book. Starting with the bad news: you will need to wait a few more months to read it, but, I thought we could all use something to look forward to in these dark times.
Mental illness is a very difficult topic to write about; getting the balance right between research and the complexity of the subject matter as well as creating relatable characters is tricky. Accurately portraying how society dealt with mental illness in the past – and even now – takes carefully crafted words and strong characters. I am glad Yoerg wrote it, because I would not trust many authors to get it right.
The story spans from 1927 to 1973, and alternates between three generations of women: Solange who was placed in an insane asylum by her husband before World War II and has been in the institution for over 34 years, Carole, one of her daughters, who now, married with three children, is dreading to follow her mother’s fate, and Alison, Carole’s daughter, who is confused, but aware of her mother’s unraveling and is trying to fix the problems in ways only a 10-year-old could attempt.
In Yoerg’s last novel, The Middle of Somewhere, Liz Kroft was the strong female character you could relate to and feel for. Now, even after months of reading these passages, the Carole is still in my head. Her slow descent into schizophrenia, the voices she hears, the people screaming in her head, the commotion, her fear of what people might think of her if she admitted what what going on in her head – I could quote you these lines now, they have stayed with me. I have descended into mental illness with her, I felt for her, I was shivering during her breakdown.
The best part of the book is the contrast. With Liz Kroft they were the mountains and valleys of the hiking trail, here it is the upsetting history of Solange’ past as well as Carole’s journey on the one side, and Alison, who is reflective, and hopeful to influence her family for the better with her “magic”. This opposition makes this journey through family history and emotions riveting and full of suspense.
I won’t spoil the end, but I will tell you it is a family drama which comes together beautifully at the end.
I can’t tell you to go out and buy it (yet), but what you can do it pre-order. And based on previous successes, you may need to before it sells out on the first day again.
All The Best People, by Sonja Yoerg
Publishing date 2 May 2017
ISBN10: 0399583491; ISBN13: 978-0399583490