I’ve read all of Sonja Yoerg’s work and with each novel, she brings something different to the table. In her first novel, hidden secrets; in her second, a search for self among the wilderness; and in ALL THE BEST PEOPLE, a fight to understand and survive a damning family legacy. Each of her novels highlights a character on an emotional journey, combined with the confrontation of hard truths.

All the best peopleAs I continued to read, I grew engrossed by what I assumed were historical events in Vermont’s history regarding the treatment of mental health issues and patients themselves (yes, this turned out to be based on historic fact — and I am a historical fiction junkie). In this story that covers a trio of women in a single family – grandmother, daughter, granddaughter – I was moved to learn more about Solange’s (grandmother) past and her relationship with her husband.

The author subtly weaves water symbolism into the narrative, and includes themes related to class inequity, magic, inheritance and the stigma associated with mental health issues. My brother-in-law suffers the same affliction as one of the characters, so this story was of great interest to me.

If you enjoy contemporary women’s fiction that includes the point of view of young characters and tackles tough topics – but is still a quick and accessible read – pick up Yoerg’s latest book. It is a story of mother-daughter relationships, acceptance and the power of the love of family. You’ll grow to care for the young Alison, Carole and Solange, and you may be as surprised as I was by some unforeseen revelations and events that occur toward the latter part of the book. And, as usual, Yoerg has a gift for descriptions of the natural setting, which is always a plus in my world. ALL THE BEST PEOPLE is a lovely tribute to mothers’ love and a great eye-opener about the historic components of mental health treatment in the US.

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(A version of this review was published by Melissa Crytzer Fry at GoodReads on Apr 23, 2017.  It is reposted here with the permission of the author.)

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