Published by Scribner on January 24th 2017
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I usually know what I want to say when I being a review. This book is harder for me to say something about. I find myself sitting in quiet contemplation while thinking about what to write and it occurs to me that this is how I see this book – a quiet contemplation on one family’s life, their suffering, their loss, and their ability to rebuild.
This beautifully written book begins when the family patriarch, Jozef Vinich has died. His daughter, Hannah and his grandson, Bo Konar are sitting with the body. Their family has known loss. Jozef Vinich, a World War I Veteran who returned to America in search of a better life for himself. He is know for his work ethic, his humor and his commitment to his family. He is mourned by his mil workers, the community, his close friend (and his priest), and his family.
Jozef’s daughter Hannah married Bexhet Konar who emigrated from Hungary and fought with the Americans in World War II. The killing and war were too much for him and he became a deserter and spend several years in prison for his crime of desertion. When he returns home to The Endless Mountains in Pennsylvania, he is a changed man. He is quiet and takes long walks in the woods. One day he is tragically killed while walking in the woods by a hunter.
Hannah Konar raises their two sons – Sam and Bo with the assistance of her Father Jozef. Both boys are different. Sam cannot wait to experience life. He begins a relationship with the daughter of the man who accidentally shot his father. That does not go over well. Then he serves in Vietnam and then re-enlists to go back to Vietnam where he is declared missing in action. Bo Konar decided to go to college where he fell in love but dropped out after his girlfriend was killed in an accident. He returns home to help his mother with the farm and purchases the Mil from his grandfather.
Seriously at this point, I was thinking “what more can one family take?” Seriously there is so much loss and grief. But this family lives in a time of war and loss is inevitable. They do find a way to go on. Theirs is a quiet strength. They find a way to keep moving and keep living. This is not the end of their loses; however, there is more to come. I wont give any more of the plot away.. so read this book for yourself.
I will say that I am from Pennsylvania. My hometown was actually mentioned in this book as were several other towns that I know so well. To say that it was EASY to visualize the forest, the mountains and the terrain was an understatement. I saw their farm as I saw my family’s farm. I saw the clouds and fog rising off the mountains. I have walked those woods – maybe not the woods in the book – but I had such a feeling of familiarity while reading this. It was surreal.
I love how the story unfolded. Is this a book about loss? YES. But it is also a book about family, about what makes you a family, about love, about acceptance, about strength, about community, about grief, about love, about loss, about hope and about happiness. Life does go on as they say and this family finds a way to go on, to allow themselves to experience happiness in spite of the grief.
After reading this book, I learned that this is the second in the series of 3 books. I will definitely be reading the first book, “Soujourn” which is about Jozef Vinich.
This book is not a page turner, there is not big REVEAL, no HUGE plot twist at the end. What the reader has is a beautifully written book about family, about community, and day to day life. When I finished the book, I just sat with it in quiet contemplation. I believe great books do that – they leave the reader pondering and thinking. I look forward to reading the next book. I highly recommend “The Signal Flame”.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.