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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
When we first meet Sheila, the main character in Sheryn MacMunn's contemporary fiction novel, Finding Out, she's enduring the public humiliation of being dumped by her live-in boyfriend, in front of her neighbors, on the street outside their co-op building. Sheila is shocked to find out that he's moved out of their co-op while she was on a business trip, taken their joint savings, and found someone else. After their 7-year relationship, she's not sure how to reestablish herself as a single. Her job has also gotten more stressful with the introduction of Crystal, a young, spoiled woman with an important father, who has been made Sheila's direct responsibility. While she's struggling to make sense of it all, she accepts an invitation to dinner with Ruth, an elderly neighbor, for Sunday evening. Ruth says that Sunday evenings are the hardest in the kind of situation that Sheila finds herself in. Along with the dinner, Ruth begins to tell Sheila stories about her life.
Finding Out by Sheryn MacMunn is an impressively smooth and readable novel that weaves present and past together with deceptive ease. Sheila's business and personal problems are crazy and will seem all-too-familiar to many of those who've worked in an office and endured office politics; as well as those who've been on the receiving end of a poorly executed breakup. Where Finding Out really shines, however, is Ruth's series of stories about her childhood and coming of age in Nazi Germany. I felt like I was reading tales spun by a Scheherazade, as the beleaguered family hikes through the woods to find safety and ends up camping throughout the winter in the snow and cold. I have long been a student of WWII history and read many historical novels on the subject. Finding Out ranks up there with the best of them. Finding Out is a remarkable fusion of present and past and well worth reading.