Praise for All the Forgivenesses
A strong protagonist is at the center of Hardinger's debut, an early-1900s tale of a resolute girl in a Midwestern family that's burdened with hardship. Bertie Winslow is a responsible, observant child with an emotionally absent mother and an alcoholic father who can only be relied on to cruelly tease his children. At nine years old, Bertie is forced to care for her sisters, baby Opal and 3-year-old Dacia, and by the time Bertie is 11, she also needs to tend to her depressed mother's new baby twins. Several years later, Bertie's mother becomes ill and dies, leaving Bertie in charge of four children. Because the family is poor and the father is often away on binges, the struggles Bertie must endure with housework and child rearing are nonstop, constantly testing her emotional fortitude. Bertie finally decides she must marry--she's fortunate to find a good man--and when they relocate from Missouri to Kansas, her one friend, Alta Bea, follows with her own new husband. The friendship is sometimes awkward, because Alta Bea is a modern thinker, but Bertie continually gains wisdom in all areas of her life. The characters in this story are vividly portrayed, with nuanced, complex personalities. The resilience and strength of the narrator will stay with readers long after they've finished. (Sept.)
"Not since Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone
and Bonnie Jo Campbell's Once Upon a River
have I met such an original, strong young woman, full of resourcefulness, passion, and courage, dedicated to saving her family no matter the personal sacrifice. This is an extraordinary, unforgettable novel, with a haunting voice that follows you into your dreams at night. Elizabeth Hardinger carves the geography of the human heart and teaches us the lessons of the forgiveness and the redemption that is possible for those of us strong enough to bear the burden and gift of love."
--Jonis Agee, award-winning author of The River Wife
and The Bones of Paradise
"Elizabeth Hardinger has given us a heroine for the ages. In the face of unimaginable hardship, where survival is the only thing that matters, she learns strength and courage, and discovers joy in unexpected places. Her voice is strong and authentic and unforgettable. Equal parts tender and brutal, All the Forgivenesses
is a rich, exquisite novel."
--Alex George, author of Setting Free the Kites
"It won't take a page to know this is an abiding story told in an utterly captivating voice. I fell into this novel in a way I've only experienced when reading Kaye Gibbons, Louise Erdrich, Dorothy Allison, and Alice Walker. The sense of place and time, of family, guilt, grief, and love are so richly layered, reading All the Forgivenesses
is mesmerizing. No one writes like Hardinger. Thank goodness she does."
--Sandra Scofield, National Book Award finalist for Beyond Deserving
"Composed with unassuming wisdom and grace, All the Forgivenesses
is an exhilarating testament to the human spirit. You'll fall in love with the remarkable Bertie, whose unwavering loyalty to family delivers her a life rich with meaning and hard-won transcendence. A captivating debut by an exciting new voice in fiction."
--Wayne Harrison, author of The Spark and the Drive