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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!