[Rachel Thresher | Contributing Writer]
Thanksgiving follows four characters; Peg, Mimi, Harry and Emmaline throughout their lives, closely focusing around the time of Thanksgiving. With no explicit details about their ages, the novel begins with the friendship of Peg and Emmaline in their hometown of Arkansas. This slowly moves on to Peg and Mimi’s relationship at college and then their relationships in later life. The book echoes the interlinking character stories seen in films such as Pulp Fiction and Love Actually. Throughout their lives the characters will meet for passion, friendship, anger and revenge. The novel explores themes of love and hope, but also some dark themes of murder and molestation.
This novel is filled with surprises. What starts out as a story of two innocent young girls, develops into a sophisticated story about real life problems such as teenage pregnancy, marriage and family. Thanksgiving, at the beginning, is set in 1965 and there are many references to historical issues during these times. For example, when Emmaline is much older, she fights for the rights of women in the workplace, and when Mimi is in college she falls pregnant out of wedlock.
Although the novel is set in the past, the modern vocabulary and style of the story gives the impression that it is set in much more recent times. As an award-winning author and journalist, Mary R. Arno uses the prose and observatory descriptions of a reporter, providing a clearer visual of the story. You can see what is happening while you read it.
Thanksgiving‘s narrative is interesting as it changes perspective in-line with which character is the most prominent in the chapter. However, this does make it easy to miss that the same characters are in each story. Also, as the story is set in the heart of America, and the author is American, there is a lot of American jargon, such as locations and nicknames for objects. This can sometimes create a barrier of misunderstanding for a UK reader when these locations and objects are a key part of a chapter. This 150 page story is an easy-read and it is clearly aimed at adults, judging by the treatment of some of the themes.
Thanksgiving is a gripping and refreshing story following the lives of Peg, Mimi, Emmaline and Harry, from small children to grown adults. A story of love, justice, survival and abuse, I recommend this book highly; especially the ending, which may catch you off-guard.
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