Note: I was given a free copy of this book from Online Book Club in exchange for an honest review. You can check out both the novel and other reviews here.
“In all things there is beauty.” This is more than a sentence, but an idea that is repeated and carried throughout Marta Curti’s In All Things. The novel focuses on a woman, Penny Rose, who has for so long felt incapable of love. That is, until she falls pregnant with her son, August. From the moment of conception, Penny can tell that August is more special than she could ever imagine, and through him she finds both home and family in the arms of her new-found friends. But when Penny discovers the illness that will keep her from watching her son grow up, she becomes determined to find one who is worthy of raising her son, a task proving to be more and more difficult each chapter. A story about love and loss, with heartbreak and just a little bit of magic, Curti uses all the right elements in all the right ways.
Before I go on, I would like to advise a trigger warning. This book contains both a rape and an attempted rape scene, along with other scenes of both physical and verbal abuse. While done tastefully, it is something I was unprepared for, and would advise people to keep in mind before diving into the story.
This book is definitely not my normal kind of read. I’m a fantasy girl, through and through. I also like the occasional paranormal, I’m a sucker for period dramas, but give me some kind of fantasy or comic book, and that’s where I’m comfortable. Not to mention I am the furthest thing from a “kid’s person” you could imagine. So, reading a book that is so heavily about a mother’s love for her child, to say it was stepping out of my comfort zone would be a slight understatement. That being said, I was shocked at how much I enjoyed this book! I thought it was beautifully done, from the writing, to the plot, to the characters themselves, there was so much this book had to offer.
After reading the novel in it’s entirety, I can safely say that this book was so much more about a mother and her son. This book, above all, was about strength, and overcoming the most difficult of obstacles, whether it be a broken home or a broken heart. What I loved most about it was not Penny, nor August, but the secondary characters. They were what made the story truly shine. Curti writes loss in a way that for at least one chapter of the novel, every reader can relate. Whether it’s the loss of a parent or of your innocence, the loss that death brings in any form, or the loss of a person you once knew but must learn to unlove, In All Things touches on each and emphasizes that one is not easier than the other.
While loss is difficult to overcome and pain is difficult to endure, Curti proves that both can be done, and that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps sometimes we are looking so hard for a miracle we are blind to those right in front of our eyes. This story brings an introspective nature out of its readers, making us think both about the large themes at play (faith, miracles, love, loss), and the smaller ones. One of my favourite sentences from the book is:
“Even at seven, Brinda was conscious of the fact that her mother did not conjure up a man as a means of protection.”
Details and ideas such as that, small but beautiful, will stay with me for quite some time. It really got me thinking, and I love it more than anything when a book accomplishes that.
The author switches from first person to third person, which was an interesting choice. In all honesty, there were some moments where it was confusing. I wasn’t sure whose perspective we were reading from. I wish there had been a little more detail to help that along, because I found myself taken out of the book and back into reality, rereading sections trying to figure out where I got lost.
What I did enjoy was the author’s use of parentheses. She uses them frequently, which is something I don’t often see. Parentheses can be an author’s worst enemy, but the way Curti uses them is actually quite brilliant. They feel like an extension of Penny, as if we’re truly delving into her mind, and the parentheses act as sub-thoughts. It was a clever choice and surprisingly did not interrupt the story’s flow. The sentences often felt like poetry, which gave the tale a whimsical feel. It was a nice and unique addition, something that I think really helped make the novel stand out above others.
Overall, I was happily surprised at this tale of love and loss, and found myself waiting until I could read more. I would give this book 4.5/5 stars, docking half of one only for the confusion in the switching of perspectives. Even though In All Things isn’t something I would have picked up on my own, I’m glad I read it. It’s truly a wonderful book and I definitely recommend it.
You can check it out on Online Book Club here, along with seeing what other readers thought about it!