All the Forgivenesses

All the Forgivenesses

by Elizabeth Hardinger


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Set in Appalachia and the Midwest at the turn of the twentieth century, this exquisite debut novel paints an intimately rendered portrait of one resilient farm family’s challenges and hard-won triumphs—helmed by an unforgettable heroine. 

Growing up on their hardscrabble farm in rural Kentucky, fifteen-year-old Albertina “Bertie” Winslow has learned a lot from her mama, Polly. She knows how to lance a boil, make a pie crust, butcher a pig, and tend to every chore that needs doing. What she doesn’t know, but is forced to reckon with all too soon, is how to look after children as a mother should …
When Polly succumbs to a long illness, Bertie takes on responsibility for her four younger siblings and their dissolute, unreliable daddy. Yet no matter how hard she tries to hold the family together, the task is overwhelming. Nine-year-old Dacia, especially, is resentful and stubborn, hinting at secrets in their mama’s life. Finally, Bertie makes the only choice she can—breaking up the family for its own survival, keeping the girls with her, sending the boys off to their grown brothers, long gone from home. 
Ever pragmatic, Bertie marries young, grateful to find a husband willing to take on the care of her sisters, and eventually moves to the oil fields of Kansas. But marriage alone cannot resolve the grief and guilt she carries over a long-ago tragedy, or prepare her for the heartaches still to come. Only by confronting wrenching truths can she open herself to joy—and learn how to not only give, but receive, unfettered love.
Inspired by stories told by the author’s mother and aunts, All the Forgivenesses is as authentic as it is lyrical—a captivating novel of family loyalty, redemption, and resilience.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496720443
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 08/27/2019
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 101,905
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth Hardinger holds a BA in English from McPherson College and an MFA from Wichita State University. She lives with her husband in Eugene, Oregon, where she occasionally copyedits technical and academic books. All the Forgivenesses, her debut novel, draws on family lore about life in a tarpaper shack during the Kansas oil boom of the 1920s. Find the author on Twitter at Elizabeth Hardinger@ElizHardinger, and visit her website at

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All the Forgivenesses 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
YoungMensanBookParade 8 days ago
All the Forgiveness is a literary fiction book about a fifteen-year-old girl named Albertina “Bertie” Winslow. She grew up on a farm in Kentucky with her dad, mom, two older brothers, Buck and William, Timmy, younger sisters, Dacia and Opal, and twin brothers, James and John. When one of her brothers die, her family feels incomplete. After her mother passes away, Bertie is left in charge of taking care of four children and herself. Bertie must make some pretty hard decisions as the “Mom” of the house. When Bertie finally makes the decision to break the family apart, she knows that her family will never be the same again. She would care for the girls and her older brother, William, and his wife, Dora, would care for the boys. Bertie eventually gets married to a musician, who loves and cares for her and her family. Bertie and her husband decide to start fresh in Kansas, where her husband will have a high paying job. Bertie still encounters many hardships in her life. She soon learns the truth about her mother, finds out her husband may have to fight in the war, her sister leaves the house, and she takes in three more children. Would you like to learn more about Bertie and her eventful life? In this book, Bertie realizes that having to take care of her family and sisters can be very challenging and at times, Bertie feels like she can’t do it anymore. She realizes, however, that even when times are hard, she still loves each and every person in her family. She looks up to her friend, Alta Bea, for advice and mutually, Alta Bea looks up to Bertie. Bertie also forgives the people who have hurt her before. This book is written around the twentieth century and describes what life was like back then. It also explains the hardships and difficulties families and children faced back then. If you are interested in learning about the daily life of families and children, this is the book for you. All The Forgiveness goes into great detail about what a challenging life Bertie experienced. I would recommend this book to middle or high schoolers, due to parts of the book being hard to understand and there is some more mature content about smoking, drinking, physical relations, and some profanity. This is a good book that teaches about friendship, forgiveness, and loving the people around you. Review by Alexis N., age 13, North Texas Mensa
Sandy5 18 days ago
I didn’t want this book to end because I had fallen hard for these characters. Times were hard in the Appalachian Hills of Kentucky, at the turn of the century, but as I turned the pages of this book, I wanted/needed Bertie to get a break. Bertie and Timmy liked to play hide-and-go-seek together until the day, little Timmy wedged himself into a tight spot and couldn’t get out. Every day, Bertie is haunted by that day when her brother Timmy died. As if that wasn’t enough, her mother now has basically, given-up-on-life and her father is a drunk who comes and goes as he please. Add to that, four siblings and you have a lot of responsibility and no adult in charge. In walks, tired Bertie. She’s 15 now, and if helping running the homestead wasn’t enough to tire her out, add a new neighbor to her busy life, who doesn’t know what Bertie is actually experiencing. I wanted to give Bertie a break but the situations for Bertie were on a downward spiral. When would they stop? When her older brothers start to come up with a plan, I started to have hope, I really did. Life is hard as the family moves about and tries to make the best of the situation. The highs and the lows kept me going and I loved this family. Oh, Bertie! You knew you had to be strong, you hid your feelings but I knew how you felt. What a fantastic book!
Anonymous 4 months ago
This book was wonderful and I couldnt put it down.
Rgaiovnik 5 months ago
All the Forgiveness is told in the voice of Bertie, a teenage girl from the south in the early 1900’s. Hardinger does a remarkable job catching the feelings and reactions of a young woman going through tremendous hardship over and over again. Hardinger also does an incredible job capturing the love of family, responsibility, mothering and creating kinship without blood. The book has a very Where the Crawdads Sing vibe, but being based off of the author’s family puts it into a tone less of mystery and more of contemporary fiction. Some that don’t love character driven novels may find it a little slow, but I found it incredibly engaging. My only criticism is finding the uneducated talking voice to be a bit kitschy. Great from start to finish.
CindyLovesBooksdotcom 7 months ago
All The Forgiveness is a stunning debut novel by author Elizabeth Hardinger. This story follows Bertie, a young girl born in Appalachia in early 1900's, through the trials of growing up poor and with minimal education, the trauma of losing siblings and parents, alcoholism and it's effects on the family. Thrust into an impossible position of responsibility at a terribly young age, Bertie makes decisions that leave her haunted with guilt for years to come.  As the years pass, learning to trust in the strong woman she had become, forgiving herself for things that were never in her control, and believeing herself worthy of love and happiness may be the hardest challenge of all. This is one of those stories that although I know is just fiction, touched me deeply. Imagining a child faced with the responsibilities and sorrows most adults would find difficult at best, I couldn't help but feel for and root for Bertie. I enjoyed everything about this book. It is written in the speech patterns appropriate for the times, locations, and educational levels of the characters. It took a page or two to get used to, but soon became charming in its own simple way. The characters are diverse and believable, the movement through time flowed seamlessly. I appreciated that there was no one major climactic event in this story, rather a slow build of events that brings relief with a final realization and satisfying conclusion. This book is listed as historical fiction. My typical expectation of HF is a fictional story woven around a person, place, or event of historical significance. I'm not sure this meets that description, maybe more accurate to be classified as Fiction. Regardless, it's a lovely story I highly recommend. I look forward to reading more from this author
TJReads 7 months ago
What a gem of a story, this is a beautifully written book! This will go down as one of the best books I’ve read this year, it has all you can ask for, love, loss, heartache, hope, faith and a great storyline. I laughed, cried, and felt so many emotions, you will also fall in love with Bertie, Sam, Opal and all the others. I had a hard time putting this one down once I got started. The writing is superb, the research is excellent, the character development is well done, and what a great story of country life in the early 1900’s. I so enjoyed this from start to finish. Bertie’s life was filled with strife, hard work and so many challenges, but she went against all odds and made the best of it. I loved the way the story was told by her, and the descriptions of the countryside, the tarpaper houses, learning to drive, traveling in the wagon, all of it was done with poetic prose. Bertie had no idea how truly special she was. What a great story!!! This one comes in with a high 5*****s. I thank Kensington Books and Net Galley for allowing me the opportunity of reading this book for my honest review
Anonymous 6 months ago
A good read about a woman and her family, their hardscrabble life and love.