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In the Shadow of Blackbirds
Cat Winters
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
Timothy Egan

See You at Harry's

See You at Harry's - Jo Knowles *SPOILER ALERT*I try not to write reviews with spoilers because every reader needs to discover books on their own. However, I don't know how I can talk about my experience without giving anything away. So only read this review AFTER you've read the book!A blazing read for me, which was very much appreciated. Jo Knowles possesses a fluid, deceptively easy style of writing that will appeal to readers. This was a bait and switch novel though, because what I THOUGHT it was going to be about, wasn't really the power of the novel.Twelve year old Fern has a brother who is struggling with his homosexuality, which within his family has not been openly recognized. He's being bullied on the school bus and mildly by his older sister, who insists on bringing the issue out in the open within the family.Fern also has a younger brother Charlie, who was a "surprise" baby in the family, and it is with Charlie that the novel resonates.I must congratulate Jo Knowles in capturing the physiological elements of grief, as the family and Fern in particular reel from an unexpected turn of events. Without missing a beat, we are taken headlong into the shock of a loss that irreparably changes the course of the lives of this family. The grief that accompanies the loss, the visceral, palpable pain and feelings of responsibility and regret are amazingly presented within the book while each family member struggles on their own to make sense of the event.In the wake of this sadness, we return to the original issues of acceptance and identity facing Fern's brother, and the resolution is satisfying and realistic. One of the important depictions here is that we can move through difficult and painful episodes in our lives and come out on the other side of loss or conflict with love and acceptance. We are all more than we appear to be, and Ms. Knowles is a wise writer for showing us how.