All the Best People by Sonja Yoerg

All the Best People

Sonja Yoerg

All the Best People celebrates the search for identity and grace in the most ordinary lives.

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An intricately crafted story of madness, magic and misfortune across three generations from the author of The Middle of Somewhere and House Broken...
 
Vermont, 1972. Carole LaPorte has a satisfying, ordinary life. She cares for her children, balances the books for the family’s auto shop and laughs when her husband slow dances her across the kitchen floor. Her tragic childhood might have happened to someone else.
 
But now her mind is playing tricks on her. The accounts won’t reconcile and the murmuring she hears isn’t the television. She ought to seek help, but she’s terrified of being locked away in a mental hospital like her mother, Solange. So Carole hides her symptoms, withdraws from her family and unwittingly sets her eleven-year-old daughter Alison on a desperate search for meaning and power: in Tarot cards, in omens from a nearby river and in a mysterious blue glass box belonging to her grandmother.
 
An exploration of the power of courage and love to overcome a damning legacy, All the Best People celebrates the search for identity and grace in the most ordinary lives.
 
CONVERSATION GUIDE INCLUDED


Advance Galley Reviews

A fascinating book. I wasn't as interested in Solange's story and the tone was darker and heavier than I was expecting. Carole's struggles hit home and Alison's story was heartbreaking for the preteen in me.A good book overall.

"All the Best People," written by Sonja Yoerg, was provided to me as a galley copy through the First to Read program. I was completely fascinated by this story, and the impacts of mental health issues in families in the early 1970s. Carole La Porte is a typical, ordinary mom in Vermont... except that her mother (Solange) is locked in a mental hospital, her sister was married to her husband's twin (who passed away), and her daughter Alison is an 11-year-old girl facing all of the frightening things of pre-teenhood. Slowly we watch Carol devolve as her mind starts "playing tricks on her" and she tries to hide it from her family, while Alison notices and tries to make sense of what is happening, while dealing with school, her brothers, and life in general. Alison uses everything she can think of to help figure it out - magic, Tarot, omens, and signs from anything she can find. Extremely well written.

The story didn't engage me the way I was expecting it too, therefore it became a slow read for me. I really had to push myself to finish it as I wasn't pulled into any of the characters. So many other people seem to love it, and I am a Vermonter so I had high hopes. I think that the book would have been better served to just give an overview of Solange at the beginning and not continue to have chapters dedicated to her because I don't think it made the book richer.

I didn't enjoy this novel as much as I hoped I would. The writing is good, but I feel that the description is misleading. I started reading looking forward to magic, with a bit of fantasy and whimsy. Something light and that was more focused on Alison's journey to help her mother and Carole's descent into madness. Instead the focus was split between four women: Solange, Carole and Janine (Solange's daughters), and Alison (Carole's daughter) and two different timelines: one focused on Solange and how she ended up in Underhill and the other focused on Carole's developing madness and Alison's upset at her changing situation. I didn't care at all for Solange's part of story (though I did understand the overall purpose of including it). I wasn't interested in reading about the classism, which was the basis of Solange's struggles. It grated on me how she deemed her husband weak, yet crumpled so easily after her indiscretion, yet I was appalled at what was done to her and that things like that happened during those times. Rather than the bit of light fantasy I was looking for this was a more realistic, serious, and historical look at mental illness and how families functioned in the 70s and farther back. How love and honesty can change the outcome. I appreciated the lighter, more hopeful ending. Overall, I think this would be a good read for an audience who is looking to read something more historically based. It wasn't for me.

I finished this wonderful book a few days ago and still find myself thinking about the characters. In fact, I so loved this book that I've yet to return to my other reads for fear of breaking the spell. Three generations of women, each from her own POV, share their story about growing up, holding on, letting go, and moving forward. Mental illness and maternal relationships are the key factors in Yoerg's latest book. Are we predisposed to mental illness? Do circumstances of misfortune change who we will become? Are some people luckier than others? Or, can we wish things into existence? How much does family life define us? Who are we without a family to rely on? Lastly, can we really blame our behavior, good or bad, on our parents, or those who raise us? I bring this final question up because I was left wondering, how can two sisters share a similar life but turn out so completely different? Whatever the answers, it's fair to say that this book is very thought provoking and I loved every minute spent reading it. Absorbing and well written. ?????????? Five shiny stars!! * I was provided with a DRC through Penguin's First to Read program. Opinions are my own.

This was simply put, one of the most stunning books I've read all year. The words were beautiful, the story heartbreakingly real, the characters so finely drawn I found myself feeling all they were feeling, which in relation to what they were experiencing was not always a pleasant thing but fabulous nonetheless. I worried for them, ached for them and was so angry on their behalf! Carole's slow decline into schizophrenia was so real to me. I have suffered from depression and while that is different, this book spoke to me from that perspective. The fear was so real, the panic and anxiety, I could feel all of that. However I was never uncomfortable enough to walk away from the book because I needed to know that she was going to somehow be ok and everything would work out as well as it could for someone suffering from mental illness. I also enjoyed the story told from Solange's point of view as well. The look into a mental hospital in the 1930's was fascinating. And then the way Carole and Solange's stories intertwined was heartbreaking and lovely and incredibly and beautifully written. I highly recommend this one to anyone who enjoys an amazingly written look at mental illness, the love between parent and child and who wants to close a book feeling satisfied and stretched in a beautiful way. This one is absolutely all of that and more.

All the Best People by Sonja Yoerg is an entertaining and very compelling story of family - the good, the bad, and everything in between. She also helps us gain a better understanding of what mental illness is and what it is not. This book is told from the perspective of 4 female characters from 3 different decades. Carole is having trouble remembering things, is hearing voices in her head, and is afraid to tell anyone. Janine is Carole's sister who has recently lost her husband and is ready to move on with her life and find love once again.  Carole's daughter Alison is in the 6th grade and she loves to look up words in the dictionary. Alison is very concerned about her mother. Finally, we hear from Carole and Janine's mother Solange, who is a permanent resident of Underhill State Hospital. The book moves from the 1970's to the 1920's, then back to the 1970's. I was really happy that we got to learn Solange's story: how she met her husband, the birth of her children, and how she ended up at Underhill State Hospital. I really enjoy when authors use real life situations and weave them into a fictional book. I always walk away feeling like I learned a little something. Be sure to read the Author's Note in the back to see how Sonja Yoerg has done that in this story. I think Sonja Yoerg did a terrific job bringing mental illness issues to the forefront. There are discussion questions in the back of the book to help bring forth a dialogue about mental illness as well as a number of other issues in the book, like class conflict, betrayal, and so on. There is a stigma that can attach itself to mental illness and I hope this book can help bridge that. If just one person reaches out for help as a result of reading this book, then in my eyes I consider this book a success. Thank you First to Read for an opportunity to read and give my honest opinion about this book.

I loved this book. I mean really enjoyed it a LOT. Watching the story unfold as it went from past to present was amazing. I felt like I really got to know the main characters and felt for them. There were a couple of parts I didn't like very much but overall, 4 star read and I would recommend to friends.

A wonderful story of 3 generations of women spanning from the 20's to the 70's. The story is set in Vermont and as a Vermonter I loved the local references. The author did a wonderful job with character development as the chapters are set from the view point of different women. The story depicts the struggles of family, love and commitment across generations. I felt an attachment to each of the characters but my favorite was Allison and how committed she was to helping her mom from a dabble of witchcraft to reaching out to those in authority for help. The topic of mental health is discussed across generations and provides a glimpse into how people were treated then and in the 70's and it impacted family. I look forward to reading more of Sonja Yoerg's book.

This book perfectly chronicled the fear a daughter has of following in her Mother's footsteps into mental instability. This narrative sounds just like my friend who is in the same situation, worried about becoming afflicted like her mother is. Stick with it--it takes a little while to get revved up, and you will be happy that you did. Great book!

I loved this book! It was very well written and kept me interested. The characters were well developed and very likable. I would highly recommend this book.

An interesting, engaging read. The characters and plot were well drawn out. The end tied all of the loose ends together well.

All the best people by Sonja Yoerg. I was really interested in diving into this book, because the description leads to many different plot possibilities . The story is about three generations and how they are closely tied together by lies, betrayal and secrets kept. We first read about Solange, her life growing up, her marriage and the birth of her first daughter Carole. Solange has to live with decisions she's made, and a betrayal that will cost her life as she knows it. After the birth of her second daughter, she reveals her secret, and loses her family as she's whisked away to a lifetime spent in a mental institution. The story switches to Solange's daughter Carole, and how she's forced to raise her baby sister. There father in roles in the armed forces and leaves the girls to be raised reluctantly by there aunt. Carole struggles with the secrets behind why no one will let her see her mother, or even speak about her, why her aunt hates her baby sister so much, and growing up with no one to love or care for them like they deserve. The book takes a turn as Carole goes on to have her own family, and her daughter Allie struggles with the changes taking place with her mom. She tries to turn to her aunt and father for help, but no one seems to see what's happening to her mother except for her. Allie brings out the true plot of the story, revealing the mental illness her mom has, and building a relationship with her grandmother Solange. The book took many different directions, but came together nicely in the end, I really enjoyed reading it and defiantly recommend it.

Enjoyed this book, but it took awhile to "get into it". Once the characters were developed it all made sense. The multi generational way of wiriting was interesting and wove a great story. I was a nursing student in the late 60's and saw many of the people who were admitted years before for illnesses treated at home now. The book was very accurate in their description. Watching the development of mental health care over many years was a great way to show the need of those afflicted. Characters were well done, not all were likeable, and that's a good thing. Having read about the eugenics movement in Vermont, it was nice to see it discussed in this book. Some things are better not forgotten. All in all, a good book.

I loved this book!! This is the story of three generations of women - Solange, her daughters Carole and Janine and Carole's daughter Allison. The story weaves in and out of time periods giving each character her moment in the sun and tying them together in both obvious and surprising ways. I was initially drawn to this book because of the psychological/mental health aspect of the book. I was not disappointed but was surprised and how quickly I fell in love with the entire story line. The characters, with the exception of Janine, were lovable in spite of (and maybe because of) their flaws. This was a quick and very enjoyable read. I will look forward to reading more from this author.

All the Best People is an engaging novel that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I received a copy as part of the First To Read program. The book follows the lives of four characters: mother, two daughters, and granddaughter. The story covers many facets and intricacies of relationships, especially when impacted by deception, trust, and most of all love. Solange spends most of her adult life in a mental hospital, locked inside her own private hell and away from her two daughters, Carole and Janine. Carole begins to hear voices as she enters middle age and fears she is headed for the same kind of life her mother has led. Janine, bitter and alone, was broken from the moment she was born, and at age 36, doesn't seem to be capable of loving anyone, let alone herself. And Carole's daughter, Alison, is entering those crucial early teen years when a young girl needs her mother more than ever, but sees her mother slipping away before her very eyes and feels powerless to help her. As each character's individual story unfolds (through alternating points of view), the reader becomes invested in trying to figure out a way to put the pieces of this family back together before it's too late. This was the kind of novel that seemed better as I was reading it than when I looked back on it. I still thought it was a good story, but there were a few things that I would have liked to have either read more about or have seen them left out all together. The topic of eugenics was broached, but never fully explored. The author's note told a more detailed account of eugenics than the novel. The second thing was the description or mention of the treatment that Solange received in the mental hospital. Again, in the author's note, it was explained that this type of treatment actually occurred. But in the novel, the topic was only mentioned. And the whole topic of magic and spells may have appealed to some, but I found them to be distracting and unnecessary, although I did like Alison's interpretation of spells vs. wishes. All in all, a good story with memorable characters.

This was a wonderful thought provoking book. The characters were so well drawn they felt like friends. The main character was deeply troubled and fearful of her life becoming like her mothers. This really adversely effected her young daughter. I would definitely recommend this book for those who like books in this genre.

I loved it, it was emotional, well written, the characters well developed, it was inspirational in the most emotional of moments, it was a trifecta. I throughly enjoyed this book, from The beginning sentence to the very last word.

Read this novel in four sittings over three days. The writing is inventively ingenious and sophisticated, the story of three generations of women--Solange, her daughters Carole and Janine, and Carole's daughter Alison--was so absorbing and realistic. The psychological dramas/storylines develop realistically, with suspense. I was surprised to find, at the end of the book, that the underlying premise of class discrimination was based on fact. Yet those facts were skillfully woven into the storylines skillfully, so that the reader never feels lectured. I'd call this novel part mystery, part romance and over-all a well-written and believable psychological drama.

I thought this book was amazing. The characters were well developed and kept me reading.

The story is amazing and I love the writing style. It had been a long time since I had read a story that not only did not disappoint but fascinated me!

Wow! Wow! I love this book! This story is mesmerizing. I could not get enough of this story. It has it all! There is friendship, love, betrayal, and so much more! I can and cannot believe that some of this is based on real events. Mental illness treatment used to be so atrocious. I loved the characters in this story. I really enjoyed the point of view. The story telling was wonderful. It is very well written. It brings to light the secrets in this family. It shows you how these women were shaped into who they are, or who they will because. It delves into the human mind. It dives into this thing we call life. It gives you insight into multiple minds and shows you their likeness. It lets you look at differences between people. It shows you just how easily it can be you who slides over the edge of sanity. Who knows, maybe you already have.

I absolutely loved this book!! I loved reading about the women of three generations and the struggles they go through. It was a very real story of relationships and mental health.

A heartfelt, compelling tale filled to the brim with rich characters and an emphasis on mental health issues in families. The story, which unfurls in time from the twenties to the seventies, is told through the strong voices of three generations of women, each deeply impacted by confusion, secrets and the past. I was particularly struck by Carole's passages, which painstakingly detail her descent into schizophrenia; the stellar writing perfectly relays every moment of her hellish journey. There's a little bit of everything at play here, but Yoerg effortlessly balances all of the storylines and even manages to weave a moving water theme throughout the book. A lovely literary gem.

This book started off pretty slow for me, but I was glad I stuck with it because I warmed up to it and the story came together. The POV switches between several women: Solange, who falls in love with the wrong man; her daughter Carole, who is afraid she is turning into her mother; Allison (Carole's daughter) who knows that there is something wrong with her mother when everyone else is in denial; Janine (Carole's younger sister) who had a very rough upbringing and isn't very attached to anyone except herself. Each character brought up many different emotions for me and I really cared about them, especially Allison as she struggles to be a tween whose mom is utterly preoccupied with herself.

Something is not quite right with Carole. She knows that she is hearing things that are not there and she's trying too hard to fight this alternative reality. She doesnt want to upset her family, but more importantly she fears that she'll end up institutionalized like her mother, and taken away from her family. She tries desperately hard to hide her struggles from her family. This story is told from different points of view and with an alternate timeline that reveals how Carole and her challenging sister, Janine ended up where they are. This was extremely readable and I was invested in the characters and their story. I didn't realize there was a study guide and another excerpt at the end of the book, so the ending of the story was earlier than I expected but it knit together quite well. I especially appreciated the way the author presented the chapters from Carole's point of view as she struggles with the challenge of voices. The family secrets always seem to catch up with us in the end. 5 likes

ALL THE BEST PEOPLE takes your breath from the very first line and keeps it through a heart-reeling number of twists and turns. Well-plotted, with wonderful writing and pacing, on the surface it appears to be a superfluous story, but just as you begin to think you’ve worked it out, you’re blindsided and realize you haven’t. It will keep you reading and guessing, and trust me, you still won’t have it figured out. Not until the very end! I strongly recommend the book!

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. It isn't until you've completed it do you realize what a treasure it truly is. Indeed, I was about two-thirds the way through still wondering what the point of the book was. It is a story that draws you in deeper the further you go. The story leaves you feeling uneasy and this feeling never really goes away until a particular event occurs. Having worked with mentally disturbed and challenged individuals most of my life, I can say that the author was spot-on about this topic. The historical setting serves to enhance this information. A well-researched and well-written book, a satisfying read.

I loved the many layers and characters in this book. Carole is the center and has a mother that is hospitalized for mental illness. She raises her sister, Janine. Carole begins to struggle with mental illness and calls upon the past to find out what is going on. She learns that her mother was never mentally ill and that she had an affair. The father committed her instead of having to face the affair and the aftermath. The story is told of the past and the lessons are extended into the present with Carole, her daughter, twin sons, and husband. This was a great book and I will definitely look to reading more from this author.

This book is an excellent book that travels into the mind of mental illness; the terror and confusion surrounding this. This is a great read. It travels back in forth from character to character and really adds depth to the story. The story is about Carol's family. It provides her voice, her sister, Janine, and her daughter Alison. It shows family dynamics and how decisions of the parents, particularly Carol's parents affected the generations. This is well written and I couldn't put this book down.

There were so many layers to this story. The first layer was in the characters themselves as far as familial relationships. It went back and forth between a mother in an asylum, her two daughters and their relationships, but it also touched on many, many others. Carole was a grown woman with a husband and 3children.. She had been raised by her aunts, along with her baby sister untill the age of 18. Her father died in the war and her mother had been in an asylum since Carole was about 11. The aunts resented the baby sister, so Carole was really the only affection she received. The. story then turns and gives you the background of Carole's mother and her subsequent marriage to Carole's father and I between there are daily events of Carole's family life with her children. Although It may appear confusing, it is all very cohesive and you can definitely feel the timeline of events. Many things to take from the book that at the most basic level deals with who you are and how you have been loved for being yourself and not a fabricated version.

It has everything you seek in a "women's fiction" book, great characters, relationships, romance, laughter and tears. I was glued to it from start to finish,. However,before I started reading it, I discovered it was book #5 in a series that I did not read. Happily, I had book #1 in my ereader and quickly read it. That was a great help in learning some background necessary to follow all the drama confronting me. This is the perfect beach read. (or anywhere read) Now I will go backwards and read the other three.

I would like to thank First to Read, Berkley Book, and Sonja Yoerg for the ARC ( Advanced Reading Copy) of "All the Best People" by Sonja Yoerg, for my honest review. The genre for this book is Women's Fiction. I also feel there is a little bit of Historical Fiction, and a touch of magical essence. The author describes mental illness, and the effects on the characters lifes and times. I find that the author describes social political class conflict. There are those who are considered rich, and those that are considered poor by society's standards. In this novel there is history of conflict with the Protestant elite and French Catholic lake dwelling families. Often the lake dwelling families were considered to have "bad blood" In the beginning of the story, Solange, who comes from a lake dwelling family marries Osborn, who is one of the Protestant elite. Osborn is an up and coming attorney and represents a case against one of the lake dwelling families. This starts to cause a strain on the marriage. Solange and Osborn have a daughter, Carole. When Solange doubts Osborn's intentions, she tries to run away with Carole and her new baby daughter, later named Janine. Osborn takes the children and Solange winds up in a mental institution. In those days, husbands could easily have their wifes committed. Ten year old Carole tries to look after her younger sister, while they live with a mean aunt. Carole marries a kind man name Walt, and they have a daughter Alison. Carole does visit her mother,Solange at the mental Institution. Carole soon finds herself hearing voices, and is terrified that she is losing her mind. Alison finds a blue box in the attic that had belonged to Solange, and tries to make and use magic spells to control the complex situations in her life. Sonja Yoerg writes this story of three generations of conflicted and complex characters, Solange, Carole, and Alison. The author also mentions superstition, tarot cards, and magical spells. Sonja Yoerg also symbolizes the water, lake and ocean with the character's emotions.(angry or calm) The effects of mental Illness on the family can be seen through the three generations. Can this be from the "bad blood"? Kudos to Sonja Yoerg for dealing and describing, mental illness, social and political tensions, and family, loyalty, hope, faith and love. After reading this story, it makes me contemplate, Who "are the Best People"? I would highly recommend this intriguing and multi-layered read.

Everybody is crazy....some more, some less and for different reasons. I got into into this novel very quickly but honestly had to push through once the author got heavily into Solange's past. I was already hooked by the present day lives of Carol and her family. I wasn't ready to get embroiled in the past .Close to the end of the story , I was all in again. I am glad that I stuck with it.

 


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