Unexpected Gifts - S.R. Mallery

S.R. Mallery has written a captivating novel that revisits several pivotal periods of American history. Sonia, a bright young psychology student, is far from being in control of her life. Her dead-end relationship with a controlling musician who demands she be at his beck and call reflects her own dysfunctional family: her father, a bitter paraplegic of the Vietnam war who abuses his wife both emotionally and verbally and turns to alcohol to bury his past. Her mother, who is basically a slave to her husband's needs, understands the importance of their Irish and Bulgarian roots and has kept all the family journals and mementoes boxed up in the attic. So when Sonia confides her feeling of being lost, her mother suggests she read the family journals to find an answer to her problem.
The more Sonia reads, the more emotionally connected she becomes to her ancestors. It is by learning about her past that she is able to understand her present reality and discover her inner strength.
The journals go back several generations and bring us to a different era in American history, all depicted with great accuracy and warmth. Her story of her Irish ancestor Daria's escape from an abusive alcoholic family in the old country to relive an identical one in America was extremely poignant. There are many stories of hardship in this well crafted
historical novel, and Sonia is the product of all their pain and suffering. She must learn to be inspired by the resilience of those that came before her, and honour the sacrifices they made so she can be who she is today. A great thought provoking read from a master writer.