Title: Thank You for All Things
Author: Sandra Kring
Release Date: September 30, 2008
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
From the back cover:
At eleven, Lucy McGowan already knows she’ll be a psychologist when she grows up. And her quirky and conflicted family provides plenty of opportunity for her to practice her calling. Now Lucy, her “profoundly gifted” twin brother, Milo, her commitment-phobic mother, and her New Age grandmother are leaving Chicago for Timber Falls, Wisconsin, to care for her dying grandfather.
Lucy believes her time in a rural town where the McGowan story began will provide a key piece to the puzzle of her family’s broken past, and perhaps even reveal the truth about her own missing father. But what she discovers is so much more – a lesson about the paradoxes of love and the grace of forgiveness that the adults around her will need help in remembering if their family is ever to find peace and embrace the future.
Thank You for All Things is a powerful and poignant novel by a brilliant storyteller who illustrates that when it comes to matters of family and love, often it is the innocent who force others to confront their darkest secrets.
For some reason, when I began reading Thank You for All Things, I thought it was about the grown up Lucy returning home to care for a dying grandfather and uncovering secrets from the past (I think because of the way the summary starts – at eleven, she already knows she wants to be a psychologist. So when she grows and becomes a psychologist, she has this other stuff to face.). I didn’t realize that the story was told from the point of view of an eleven year old. Would that have prevented me from picking up the book originally? Maybe. But I’m very glad I stuck with it anyways.
Lucy is not a typical eleven year old. She is incredibly precocious and very intelligent. She is intuitive and is perceptive enough to be able to read body language. This means that she is a gifted narrator; there is little frustration associated with the fact that she is young.
It’s also incredibly interesting to witness the story through Lucy’s eyes. If we were seeing it through Tess’s eyes (the mother), her irritation with Lucy’s obsession over the identity of her father would be palpable. The reader would become irritated with Lucy – whatever the story, why can’t Lucy just understand that Tess is trying to protect her daughter?
Instead, the reader feels Lucy’s need to learn who her father is. We see the unfolding of the history of dark secrets and family tragedies through the eyes of a curious eleven-year-old. Though Lucy can seem much older than her years, she works wonderfully as a narrator. Seeing the story through another’s eyes would make it entirely different, which is why it works so well. It is an extremely interesting point of view, and Kring deserves credit for writing it convincingly.
Thank You for All Things is a story of forgiveness and understanding. It also explores the friction between a mother’s need to protect her children and a child’s need to know and understand. It’s a great read, and I definitely recommend it.