All Manner of Things

Written by Susie Finkbeiner
Review by Jodie Toohey

Annie Jacobson’s father, Frank, a Korean War veteran, couldn’t adapt to reassuming his role as father and husband upon his return. So he left Annie’s mother to raise Annie and her two brothers on her own. Approximately 12 years later, the family is understandably dismayed when Annie’s brother, Mike, Frank’s son, enlists in the army, surely destined for Vietnam.

When Mike leaves, he reveals that their grandparents knew where their father was all along, giving Annie his address, just in case. Just in case happens, and Frank reappears to Annie’s younger brother, Joel’s, delight; her mother’s anger; and her own mixed feelings. The rest of the book shows how the family deals with Frank’s reappearance and everything else happening in their lives, all with the backdrop of the social influences of the time.

All Manner of Things is a story about family, life choices and regrets, growing up, and finding your way in a changing world. It is about how family members have similarities to and differences from each other and how a father’s fate doesn’t necessarily carry over to the son. It’s about finding a way home, even if that home has changed over the years.

Ms. Finkbeiner provides a true sense of how life was at home during both the Korean and the Vietnam wars. She tells Annie’s story quietly but effectively. The conflict and tension are subtle, but the story is still full of heartbreak and hope, loss and love.