I am eternally grateful for Sonja Yoerg reaching out a few years ago asking if I wanted to review her debut novel, House Broken. I fell in love with it and knew that Yoerg was going to be one to watch! I have since read all of her books and am always excited to see when her next book is going to drop.
Her books are always well written with powerful story telling that will draw readers in. Basically it’s a no brainer when I see one of her books come up for a review—-yes! I saw the cover for this one and was instantly drawn curious about what was going to be inside to discover.
Many of Yoerg’s books focus on familial relationships (mother/daughter etc) and I love seeing the dynamics between all the characters and their respective families. This book promised to be the most complex familial relationship book yet and I couldn’t wait to dive into the characters and their family dynamics!
Chesapeake Bay, 1980. Eighteen-year-old Verity Vergennes is the captain of the USS Nepenthe, and her seven younger siblings are her crew. The ship—an oyster boat transformed into a make-believe destroyer—is the heart of the Vergennes family, a place both to play and to learn responsibility. But Verity’s had it with being tied to the ship and secretly applies to a distant college. If only her parents could bear to let her go.
Maeve and Arthur Vergennes already suffered one loss when, five years earlier, their eldest son, Jude, stormed out and never returned. Now Maeve is pregnant again and something’s amiss. Verity yearns to follow her dreams, but how can she jump ship now? The problem, and perhaps the answer, lies with Jude.
When disaster strikes and the family unravels, Verity must rally her sibling crew to keep the Nepenthe and all it symbolizes afloat. Sailing away from home, she discovers, is never easy—not if you ever hope to find your way back. (summary from Goodreads)
I do not have a big family. Honestly I never wanted any other siblings and being from a small family was totally fine by me. In fact, I was content being an only child (I have 1 sister who is 7 years younger than me) and I never really saw the appeal of a large family—-until I married into one. My husband if one of 5 siblings (he’s the oldest). He has 10 aunts/uncles on one side of the family and they each have at least 5 kids. So there are cousins galore and they all live within a 1 mile radius. It was a big adjustment for me when we got married. There was ALWAYS a family member at showing up or celebrating a life event. My husband was the first to get married in the cousins group so our wedding was a big deal for the family. In the almost 20 years since our wedding, it’s been so fun being part of the large family dynamic. There is a pecking order among the siblings, cousins, and tias and tios…..and unspoken rules that people follow and no one has any privacy. Everyone knows everything about everyone. I love it which is why I connected with this book is a unique way!
I loved the Vergennes family. They were everything a large family is! It didn’t feel like the large family dynamic was forced at all. It felt like the author really understood how large families worked and all the little nuanced dynamics that existed for each family member. The beauty of this novel is not only found within the story itself, but within the Vergennes family. Not just the individual characters (which were great on their own) but the large family dynamic is like it’s own character and that shines in this novel. Yes the characters have their own trials and tribulations and lessons to learn, but I love seeing the Vergennes family function as it’s own ‘character’ so to speak. The author captures all the excitement and joy of a large family and how unique their dynamic truly is. This was my favorite aspect of the novel hands down. The other fun little bit was the Vergennes family lived on a ship which gave it a little Swiss Family Robinson vibe which was so fun and reminded me of my childhood. So great!
Every time Yoerg comes out with a new novel, I feel like ‘this is the best one yet!’ but then she comes out with something else and I am left eating my words! This one for me has been the best novel she has written. Having read her earlier books (which were wonderful too!) I have had the opportunity to watch her writing style grow and polish. This novel has heart, tragedy, comedy, love, healing, growth, and healing. I loved how well Yoerg has captured the feel of a close knit large family and yet managed to create unique and independent characters for readers to explore and enjoy. I laughed, I cried, and I finished this one feeling content and happy. If you are looking for a heartfelt book that is heartwarming but also takes you on an emotional rollercoaster, then this is the one for you!
Book Info and Rating
Expected publication: February 23rd 2021 by Lake Union Publishing
Free review copy provided by publisher, Lake Union Publishing in partnership with the Tall Poppy Writers/Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: womens fiction