Thursday, August 04, 2011

Book Review: An Uncommon Family

 An Uncommon Family by Christa Polkinhorn is the story of three people: Karla, a six year old girl, living with her aunt, Anna, and Jonas, an artist who comes to play a pivotal role in their lives. Primarily set in Zurich, Switzerland, the story also ventures to New York and Guadalajara, Mexico.

Here is the first paragraph of the cover blurb:
A chance meeting between a middle-aged woman, a widower, and a semi-orphaned child in the city of Zurich, Switzerland, brings together three people who grapple with a past of loss and betrayal. Six-year-old Karla, whose mother died in a car crash, has a hard time accepting the loss. Anna, her aunt and guardian, struggles with her former husband’s deception and her shattered confidence in men, and Jonas, artist and teacher, mourns the death of his wife.
The story is not nearly as “dark” as you might think by reading that blurb, although it does have its moments of tenseness and stress, misunderstandings and pain. It also has love, forgiveness and understanding.

One thing I liked about An Uncommon Family is that the characters are not caricatures. Polkinhorn gives them depth. When Anna’s sister dies, Anna, the main protagonist, takes custody of her niece, Karla. Having her niece with hers fills her life, until she meets Jonas. Falling in love, but not admitting it, they become almost a family for Karla. But both Anna and Jonas have secrets from their past. Anna is not sure she can forgive Jonas’ secret.

In the end, the question is: Can they be a true family or will they remain An Uncommon Family?

I liked Christa Polkinhorn’s way of developing the characters. Each of them is flawed in their own way. No one is perfect. I also like the primary setting, Zurich, which I’ve never been to, but would like to go there after reading An Uncommon Family. (The author is originally from Switzerland.)

An Uncommon Family

I give An Uncommon Family by Christa Polkinhorn a rating of Hel-of-a-Story because she created a story for each character, complete with secrets, and then brought those stories together.
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FTC Disclaimer: This e-book was given to me by the author. This did not influence my review. What did influence me was that I read it on Kindle, or more accurately, a Kindle app. I had to go through a huge learning curve. Even though I read it on my computer via the Kindle app, I had to train myself not to read it as though it were a Word document. So many times, I would finish a page and scroll down to the next page. Don’t Do That! One scroll might take me five pages away or 50 pages away. And since there were no page numbers, it was difficult to find my way back. One morning I opened it up and it hadn’t saved where I left off. I had to re-read about 25 pages before I found my spot. Eventually, though, I got the hang of Never Using the Scroll button. In the end, An Uncommon Family was worth it.

17 comments:

  1. LOL! No scroll. Reading on a Kindle is so much more book-like than an app though. It's hard to curl up in a chair with a computer.

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  2. Ditto, LOL, Helen. I'm still resisting getting an e-reader and don't think I'd enjoy reading a book on my computer. Sigh!
    Karen

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  3. Hi Helen,
    Thank you for the sensitive and insightful review. I'm glad you liked the book.

    And, yes, get yourself a Kindle, lol. I have never been able to read a book on my laptop. Also, the formatting in the Kindle app is different from the one in the eReader.

    Thanks again,
    Christa

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  4. It's a good book and don't use the scroll - check!

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  5. As of today, I have an eReader. It's a hand me down, but it's mine! Woo-woo.

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  6. Congratulations to your official entry into the 21st Century! Bravo!
    Christa

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  7. Woot! What Christa said. :)

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  8. Thanks for the review. During a layover for a trip to Italy we were asked if we were interested in taking a flight through Zurich as they were overbooked on the NY to Venice flight. Me being ever practical didn't take the offer - regretfully.
    Ann

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  9. Hi Ann (Cozy in Texas), well perhaps you'll make it on your next trip. In the meantime, read my book and you can go there without spending a lot of money. LOL. Shameless self-promotion.
    Christa

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  10. Hel-of-a-story - Like that!

    It is an interesting premise. And I agree, it does sound dark. Nice to know it's not nearly as dark as it sounds. Thanks for the review!

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  11. Thanks for the great review, Helen. Another book to add to my growing list of books to purchase.

    Glad you finally got an e-reader. It will make reading these books so much easier. I couldn't imagine trying to read a whole book on the computer.

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  12. Ha, I didn't realize my blurb sounded so "dark" - interesting. I guess both my novels deal with flawed human beings who struggle with a painful past, yet find a way, through love and caring, to overcome it.
    I am happy Helen's review brought that out.
    Thank you.
    Christa

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  13. Sounds like a great story. Thanks.
    Happy Weekend!

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  14. It defintely sounds like my kind of book. And I love my Kindle and the fact that I can take all those books with me wherever I go in the palm of my hand (or my purse). :)

    Jean
    Murder on the Interstate
    (Now on Kindle)
    Forgive the BSP

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  15. I think there are a lot of uncommon family nowadays. It's a pity many govt or organisations don't recognise this. This sounds very interesting, thanks for the heads up.

    Chemical Fusion

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