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Friday, May 12, 2017

(41)Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

It was the 1950's when Nora and Theresa Flynn left their small village in Ireland to sail to America where they are greeted by the man that Nora is meant to marry.  For Nora and Theresa adjusting to life in America isn't easy, the culture, the pace, the people are all different.  Theresa - unaccustomed to the more advanced lifestyle finds herself pregnant at eighteen. Even in the fast-pace American lifestyle, this is a major problem and mortal sin.  Theresa agrees to turn baby Patrick over to Nora and Charlie to raise as their own, but the arrangement proves to be far more difficult for both Theresa and Nora than they ever dreamed.  Their relationship is the biggest casualty of Theresa's pregnancy and it completely splinters when Theresa joins the convent.   Fifty years go by and Patrick is tragically killed in a car accident.  Will this tragedy be what it takes to bring Nora and Theresa back together?

Saints for All Occasions is such a good book that spans fifty years of strained family dynamics.   I come from a long line of Irish-Americans there was so much that I could relate to in this book.   Nora is a tough woman, not real affectionate to her children, but she does what she has to do - even if it is raising her sister's baby as her own.  Theresa is also a strong woman, being able to give up her son and then commit her life to living as a cloistered nun. I have a second cousin who recently joined the convent (see, told you I could relate) and it was interesting to me hearing about life in the convent.  I could see where that life and devotion could be appealing.   The author moves the book around from the past and the present (2009) and the grief that Nora and family feels at the loss of Patrick is palpable and heartbreaking.   I wasn't sure how the story was going to end, but I was very pleased with the way it ended.  It was satisfying and it felt right.

Bottom line - Saints for All Occasions was one of those books that people are going to be talking about all summer.  The characters are rich and the story is intricate - so good!