Myles, aka Milo, and Lucy McGowan are 11 year old twins. Milo is considered a genius and Lucy is extremely gifted. They live with their single, never been married mother, Tess, in a low rent apartment in Chicago. Tess had planned on being a literary author but found the being a Christian romance author paid more. So, she writes romance novels and is ashamed to admit it. She also homeschools Milo and Lucy as she is sure that public schools could not provide them the education they need due to their advanced intellect. Her mother, Oma, lives nearby and helps out as much as she can. Oma drives Tess nuts though with her new age philosophies.
When Oma is contacted by her ex-husband’s sister, Jenna, that he is ill and about to die, Oma remembers a promise she mad to him years ago. Oma promised never to have him put in a nursing home so she agrees to come to Timber Falls, WI to take care of him. To get there, she asks Tess to drive her which Tess agrees to with a lot of reservation. Tess plans only to drop Oma off and then the children and her will return immediately to Chicago. Plans change when Milo isn’t well enough to return to Chicago as soon as they get to Timber Falls and while they were watched the evening news, they saw they apartment building that they live in burn to the ground. With no place else to go, Tess and the kids end up helping Oma with Tess’s father during the last days of his life. These few weeks will change the way all of them look at life and long kept secrets will be revealed, for better or worse.
This book is written from 11 year old Lucy’s perceptive. While you get an adult view due to Lucy reading her mother’s journals, for the most part it is from a young girls view. The interchanging of points of view is done extremely well and flows well with the story. Lucy comes across as very curious and very determined to find out who her birth father is and why no one talks about him. Tess emerges as someone who feels things very deeply but is unable to express them except in writing. These two personalities don’t always mesh and just like real mothers and daughters, arguments and fights occur.
Much of this story revolves around Tess’s dysfunctional family and the secret of Milo and Lucy’s father. Tess’s father was very abusive at home yet the town sees him as a champion of the underdog and a charitable man. Oma due to this abuse became a drunk. Tess’s twin, Clay, left home at 17 and will not talk to Oma. Lucy goes to everyone in town asking about her father and learning about her grandfather. As the characters work through the issues and discoveries, they grow and begin to learn how to become a functional family.
This book is not a fast paced, action filled book. It is slow paced and rambling. Things happen but slowly like a flower blooming. As each layer is revealed, another is exposed. The book covers several weeks and as each day is experienced, it is also shared with the reader letting you be a part of this family’s life. There isn’t a big climax and ending. There is closure and a new beginning. This family learns to let go of the past and learns how to shape a new beginning.
At twelve, Lucy Marie McGowan already knows she’ll be a psychologist when she grows up. And her quirky and conflicted family provides plenty of opportunity for her to practice her calling. Now Lucy, her “profoundly gifted” twin brother, Milo, her commitment-phobic mother, and her New Age grandmother are leaving Chicago for Timber Falls, Wisconsin, to care for her dying grandfather—a complex and difficult man whose failure as a husband and father still painfully echoes down through the years.
Lucy believes her time in the rural town where the McGowan story began will provide a key piece to the puzzle of her family’s broken past, and perhaps even reveal the truth about her own missing father. But what she discovers is so much more—a lesson about the paradoxes of love and the grace of forgiveness that the adults around her will need help in remembering if their family is ever to find peace and embrace the future.
By turns heart-wrenching and heart-mending, Thank You for All Things is a powerful and poignant novel by a brilliant storyteller who illustrates that when it comes to matters of family and love, often it is the innocent who force others to confront their darkest secrets.