Sunday, May 8, 2016

My take on: All the Winters After

Kachemak "Kache" Winkel has been running from his past for 20 years. His parents and his brother, Denny, died in a plane crash 20 years ago. And while Kache is in no way responsible for their deaths, he still feels guilty for surviving. He was supposed to be on the plane, but Kache chose to stay home after getting into a fight with his father the night before. Kache knew his mother and brother loved him deeply, but he always believed his father was disappointed in him. Death didn't change those feelings for Kache.

Can Kache ever be the man he's supposed to be or live the life he's supposed to if he doesn't let go of the guilt? That question is at the heart of Seré Prince Halverson's new novel All the Winters After.

Kache left his small Alaska town of Caboose for Austin, Texas. In the 20 years since he left, Kache has managed to forge a successful career and lives with his girlfriend, Janie. Sounds like a nice life. But when he's laid off from his job, Kache loses what little purpose he had left in his life. He spends his time languishing on the couch watching TV. He needs to wake up. He finally does when his aunt, Snag, convinces him to finally come home. His grandmother, Lettie, is in poor health and Kache is needed now more than ever.

Kache's return to Caboose is not only life-changing for himself but his entire family. Snag also blames herself for the death of her brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. Letting go of the guilt means facing a part of herself that Snag has been running away from for decades. Facing the truth could also damage her relationship with Kache--forever!

In a way, life has stalled for Kache and for Snag. They've been running away from everything, including the family home. Neither Kache nor Snag has set foot in the family cabin for 20 years. It's a relic of a time long since passed. It's a time capsule, filled with all of the emotional baggage the Winkel family has been carrying around for decades.

Kache is certain he will find a dilapidated pile of crap, but is stunned to see his home exactly as he left it. It hasn't been abandoned. A mysterious Russian woman, named Nadia, has been living there for the past 10 years. Like Kache and Snag, Nadia is also running from her past. Instead, Nadia has chosen to live alone. She has chosen to immerse herself in the Winkel family history. She's read his mother's journals. She's read his mother's books. She wears Kache's clothes. Nadia knows Kache better than he knows himself. What about Nadia? What or whom is she running from? Kache slowly comes to see Nadia as more than just a stranger in his home. He see's her as a friend and a lover. But if neither one of them faces their past, they can never have a future.

I loved this book. Love doesn't solve everything for Kache and Nadia, but it does help both of them evolve. Because of Kache, Nadia comes out of her shell. She comes to embrace the outside world and all it has to offer. From technology to food, Nadia learns that there is more to life than a small cabin by a lake. Because of Nadia, Kache learns to forgive himself. The ending is rather bittersweet. It's not wrapped up into a neat little bow. The ending almost made me cry. I was expecting something different and the author surprised me. All the characters have a happy ending, just not the one I wanted. Want to know what I'm talking the book!

Rating: O.M.G.!!

Note: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. (I received it months ago and I can't remember who sent it. Sorry!)

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