Unexpected Gifts

Unexpected Gifts

by S. R. Mallery


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A TRUE AMERICAN FAMILY SAGA: Can we learn from our ancestors? Do our relatives' behaviors help shape our own? In "Unexpected Gifts" that is precisely what happens to Sonia, a confused college student, heading for addictions and forever choosing the wrong man. Searching for answers, she begins to read her family's diaries and journals from America's past: the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and Timothy Leary era; Tupperware parties, McCarthyism, and Black Power; the Great Depression, dance marathons, and Eleanor Roosevelt; the immigrant experience and the Suffragists. Back and forth the book journeys, linking yesteryear with modern life until finally, by understanding her ancestors' hardships and faults, she gains enough clarity to make some right choices.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780988954205
Publisher: Mockingbird Lane Press
Publication date: 04/16/2013
Pages: 382
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.85(d)

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Unexpected Gifts 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVED IT!! I loved loved LOVED Unexpected Gifts!!! In fact after I finished reading it I ordered two more copies for my daughters in law. And then I actually turned around and started reading it again. Unexpected Gifts really is an unexpected gift for the reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A History Lesson With a Surprise Ending In S.R. Mallery's novel, the main character Sonia resurrects her family tree from a long-secreted attic trunk. Struggling with her bothersome, lifelong affliction, she looks for clues in the diaries and tangible souvenirs of her past relatives' lives, hoping for a better understanding of herself. With Ms. Mallery alternating each chapter between past and present, I was reminded of T.C. Boyle's WORLD'S END, but unlike WORLD'S END, UNEXPECTED GIFTS covers many more decades of American history, and the author's recounting of such events as The Depression, Suffragist Movement, immigrants' contribution to The Ford Motor Company and Empire State Building constuction, Vietnam War and Woodstock is powerful. Then there's the surprise ending as Sonia realizes her friend and her father share something in common. A wonderful story that should serve to remind us that in this fast-paced world we live in, we should never forget such precious American history.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite Reading S.R. Mallery’s first novel, Unexpected Gifts, is like exploring a large wooden chest, full of valuable treasures. The main character, Sonia, is a college student, majoring in psychology. Sonia is the only child of Sam and Lily; Sam is a Vietnam veteran who lost the use of his legs as a result of a war injury. He has never accepted his fate and spends his days in anger laced with alcohol. Sonia too has difficulties in dealing with relationships and the real world. Lily decides to share the history of her and Sam’s relationship, as well as those of several ancestors, with Sonia. By encouraging Sonia to read the diaries and journals, as well as see meaningful souvenirs from the past, Lily gives Sonia much insight into the family history. Eventually, these new insights lead Sonia into understanding the past. She also gains clarity about her personal relationships and the decisions she is making in her own life. Unexpected Gifts by S.R. Mallery takes the reader on an intriguing journey; not only does the reader become engaged in one young woman’s adventure, they must also wonder about the life experiences of their own ancestors. Historical events are told from the perspective of the individual, rather than from a societal perspective. Ms. Mallery’s clear and descriptive writing style adds to the substantive quality of this work. This is a book to be savored, as there is much information, as well as a captivating story about one family greatly affected by the events of their times. A thought-provoking read indeed!
Frank_Scozzari More than 1 year ago
UNEXPECTED GIFTS is a nostalgic ride through Americana—one that brought me back to my own childhood. Sonia, a young woman searching for herself, hearkens back through the history of her ancestors via dairies and memorabilia uncovered in an attic. In doing so, she finds a treasure trove of family history. She comes to know the strength of her forefathers & mothers, and through it gains the power of heritage. Sometimes a descendant doesn't fully understand or appreciate the struggle of those before them. What is passed down through the generations is often lost, yet within lies the most unexpected of gifts. S. R. Mallery brilliantly unwraps this story through Sonia's eyes and the voices of the past. Each amazing story is followed by another. The writing is great, the plot believable and backed by historical relevance, and the characters likable. It is not often I finish a book and feel a bit wistful. But when I closed the last page of UNEXPECTED GIFTS I felt like I was saying goodbye to an old friend.
Amy_LouAM More than 1 year ago
In this moving novel, S.R. Mallery takes us from one historic event to another, weaving a family's history with American history and teaching us and the main character some valuable lessons along the way. From Ellis Island to the Great Depression, Eleanor Roosevelt, civil rights, Vietnam, Woodstock, to present day, Mallery gives us a fascinating, intimate look at these events, as seen through the eyes of her characters. The book left me wishing my ancestors had left diaries and letters that would help me know them just as Sonia got to know her family. I'm in awe of how the author could write about the events so realistically, putting the reader firmly into different time periods in America's history. Unexpected Gifts is about human frailties and the impact choices have in our lives. It shows the ripple effects that someone else's actions and the culture of a nation can have on a person and ultimately an entire family--generation after generation. This book is thought provoking and a lesson of the human spirit. I really enjoyed this book with its history lessons and life lessons. How interesting it was to get to know generations of one family through their births, deaths, courtships, and marriages woven throughout the book. Sonia's unexpected gifts are the attic treasures, letters, and diaries from the past. This novel is the reader's unexpected gift.
booknerdDS More than 1 year ago
Copy received from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review. "Unexpected Gifts" by SR Mallery was full of many unexpected surprises and twists and turns. Mallery's story was heartbreaking, sweet and fulfilling. The heroine, Sonia, was less than perfect. She was constantly making wrong decisions and choosing wrong people in her life. Aside from her bad choice in relationships she also struggles with addiction. Sonia is very lost and doesn't seem to be able to find her path. One mysterious trip to her families attic takes her on a journey to the past. When Sonia digs into her ancestral path she discovers that her family participated in the woman's suffrage movement. During this adventure Sonia is able to clear her mind and find her path. The author was able to skillfully transport Sonia from the past to the present and connect her journey with her families. I really enjoyed this story. I liked Sonia and found her to be very human and endearing. I also loved learning about this point in history where woman fought for equal footing. I highly enjoyed and recommend this story.
meanddoxie More than 1 year ago
Unexpected Gifts was an unexpected book! So many historical events and times are covered from Woodstock and Vietnam to the depression, emigration/immigration and the poor conditions people were forced to endure once arriving here. Even the Titanic is briefly touched on! I have never read a book that wasn’t a textbook that was able to successfully cover so many time frames in such little space, with the accuracy you really would expect from reading the journals of those who had actually lived in those times.
Bill_Nelson More than 1 year ago
This meaningful novel is rich with historical events making it as if we were reading the memoir of a family. The saga of what made Sonia’s (the protagonist) family and therefore made Sonia is unforgettable. Unexpected Gifts by S.R. Mallery is a rewarding read that dabbles in philosophy as the author paints with incredible detail that seems pulled from authentic diaries and letters. She places us into the story by connecting us to the context of our society’s memory. The characters and dialogue are reminiscent of eavesdropped conversations we want to hear, people we would like to know. And we do get to know them, and care, as the events crowd in on their lives and Sonia transforms (perhaps too strong a word). She does gain understanding and maturity through the experiences of those that came before her. This author has many skills beyond writing, research is one – the non google kind, the kind that comes from talking to people who were there or actually reading old journals (or at least making us feel that way). And then there is how she blends the past and the present with a seamless texture that only a “true” storyteller can manage. A remarkable debut novel – looking forward to more from this author. Highly recommended 5-stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautifully written gem, I loved every minute of this great read!