Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


by Justin Kramon
384 pages

*** About the Book ***

Finny: A NovelAt the start of the story Finny is an opinionated and slightly odd 14 year old girl who feels like she doesn't belong in her own family.  A chance meeting with an unusual boy named Earl starts her down the road to romance, but when her parents find out about her relationship they send her off to boarding school.  There she meets Judith, her gorgeous and intimidating roomate, and Poplan, the caretaker of the girls at the school and a quite unusual person.  

These people - Finny's family, Earl, Judith, and Poplan - plus a few others form the cast of Finny's life for the next twenty years.  Through good times and bad times, Finny grows up with this oddball group of people and they influence her for better and for worse.  Who will Finny turn out to be in the end? 

*** Why I Read It ***

The author emailed me to see if my book club would be interested in reading his book and having him visit our meeting.  After meeting him myself in New York at the Book Blogger Convention, I asked my club to vote on it.  The majority were interested in reading it and meeting Justin, so we chose this as our August book.  I'll be recapping that meeting in just a few days.

*** My Thoughts ***

Let me tell you what this book is NOT.  It is not a coming-of-age story ... not exactly.  It is not a Young Adult (YA) book ... too many "unusual" sexual situations to be appropriate for that audience.  It is not a re-imagining of David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens ... though there is a lot of that in there. 

As for what it IS ... well ... it is an unusual story of a not-always-likable girl and how she changes (or doesn't) over twenty years.  It is full of over-the-top characters with strange habits or personalities.   It is a story filled with both humor and sadness. 

The two things I enjoyed most about this book are the crazy characters and the glimpses of "truth" that sometimes appeared.  The characters remind me very much of those in Charles Dickens, with habits or personalities that can make you laugh, cringe, or think "Say what?!"  For me that was the biggest strength of the book and I loved many of the characters.  Then there were the times when a character would say or do something and I'd think "Yes, that is SO TRUE, that's exactly how real life is." I loved that about the book as well.

On the other hand, I didn't really feel that connected to Finny or invested in how her story would end.  I don't usually read books like this (not that any book is really "like" this one - it's someone in a class of it's own) because I don't feel like I get anything of lasting value from them.  For the most part I enjoyed reading this book, but I'm finding that I'm happier with my book choices when I don't stray from my tried-and-true favorite genres.

*** Author Events ***

If you are in the greater PA/MD/DC/NYC, Justin may be available to visit your book club.  You can contact him through his website if you are interested.  And if you'd like to meet him, he'll be reading from FINNY at the Baltimore Book Festival on 9/25 and possibly dropping in for my panels on 9/26.

*** Your Thoughts ***

Have you read FINNY? Heard of it? What did you think? I've you've read it, how would you describe it?


Kristen said...

I really liked Finny. I think maybe I connected with her character more than you did because I felt invested in what would happen to her. But I totally agree with you about the characters being one of the strengths of the book. They were a lot of fun, though sometimes I thought they strayed into caricatures.

I'm curious why you wouldn't call it a coming of age story? I think I called it that in my review and now you've got me second guessing myself, lol.

Anonymous said...

I read this for a TLC book tour, although my review won't post until the end of September. I liked it, but I agree it's hard to classify.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Kristen - I think that, to me, a coming-of-age story generally covers a smaller span of time and shows a clear development of a character - I'm not sure that Finny did the latter, and it definitely included a larger time span than the typical coming-of-age book. But that's just my opinion. :)

softdrink - I'm on the tour too, but I'm recapping my book club meeting for my tour stop. I'm looking forward to seeing what you thought of it!

chris said...

I didn't love Finny, although I thought it was interesting enough to read through to the end. I love the quirky characters, but I didn't love the lack of significant events and the rambling writing.

FWIW - Justin visited my book club too. He was very nice, especially since the group was all women, but he talks on a lot. The discussion really became more of a Q&A.

Trisha said...

I've been seeing this one around quite a bit, and I have to say that I'm definitely intrigued. I may have to read it just to weigh in. :)

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

chris - We structure our author meetings more like a Q&A so that worked well for us in this situation. And I'm glad to see someone else who loved the quirky characters - some of my club members weren't big fans of them.

Trisha - I'd be interested to see what you think of it ...

Ti said...

I snagged Jill (Softdrinks's) copy but haven't started it yet. It sounds interesting to me and perhaps something I'd like.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Ti - I hope you enjoy it! I'll be looking forward to your review.

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