Don’t Duck And Cover
All Manner Of Things by Susie Finkbeiner is a heart-wrenching Christian historical novel focusing on a family affected by war. The action is set in 1967 during the Vietnam War but families are still reeling from the Korean War. I do not normally cry over books but I cried over this one. It is beautifully written and I ‘felt’ included in the family as the book is written in the first person from the point of view of eighteen year old Annie.
The novel is a microcosm for the macrocosm of American families affected by war. It is a close knit family and community that laughs together, lives together and cries together. In some ways life in 1967 was far simpler but in many ways it was so much harder.
War hurts. It hurts civilians. It hurts the forces and it hurts God. “I can’t believe that God created us for all this death and destruction… War wasn’t His idea.” The reader becomes acquainted with the thoughts and fears of both the servicemen and those on the home front as part of the novel is in the form of letters to and from Vietnam to various family members. The servicemen were brave young men who ‘did it afraid’ as they answered the call to serve their country. “You gotta just look to God… When I get scared, it’s about the only thing I can do.” God was alongside those serving and those at home at all times, even if He seemed silent. He never left His children alone.
War alters people. A shell of a father returned from the Korean War. “A different man returned. One haunted by explosions and death and the stink of war.” Today we would diagnose PTSD. Then, a father tried to run away from his fears but “he still hadn’t outrun Korea.” The affects lasted a lifetime. There is a very tender and beautiful opening scene with this father and six year old Annie in 1955.
True treasure and self-sacrifice are the order of the day. “You can’t save everyone. But I know you can save some.” This contrasts with the love of money and possessions. “Your worth isn’t in what we’ve saved up in our bank account.” True treasure is found in our actions and love for others.
The fictional family has been beautifully drawn by Susie Finkbeiner. They are not perfect but they are realistic with their hangs ups and character flaws, and they are full of so much love. It is a love that radiates beyond the pages of the book. The reader witnesses a sibling love that can never be broken. A self-sacrificing love is witnessed again and again.
Susie Finkbeiner has written such a beautiful novel that has really affected me. She has presented the horrors of war, not so much in the blood and gore, but in an everyday way that tears families and communities apart.
I can highly recommend All Manner Of Things. It is such a beautiful novel about the bonds of love but you will need tissues close by.
As the novel has ended I feel lost without my new friends. The love within the book surrounded me and has left me feeling serene and loved.
A beautiful, beautiful book.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.