Finny is a dramatic character-driven novel that follows Delphine “Finny” Short’s life from early childhood well into adulthood. It’s sort of a coming-of-age novel, not ending with young adulthood, but continuing through each phase of Finny’s life. Calling it a dramatic novel doesn’t really do it justice, because it’s funny as well. It’s another of those books that had me laughing out loud making people around me look over to see what I was reading. And I wanted to tell them. In fact, I wanted to do more than that. I wanted to read them the scene that made me laugh, and show them how completely delightful I found this book. And I usually did.
Not only did I want to talk to others around me about this book, but I found myself shouting at the characters (at least in my mind), like some people (ahem) might do as they watch reality TV: “Don’t do it!” or “Tell him!” or “What are you thinking??”
This is one of those novels that has a timeless feel. Though it has a contemporary setting, I still found myself surprised when a reference to something contemporary, such as Jenga, crept into the story.
It’s sad to see a book end when you’ve come to love the characters, the storytelling, and the writing so much, but the final chapter was so satisfying. All of the characters were brought back together, so I felt like I could properly say goodbye. It reminded me of the series finale of a TV show, where you really want to see everyone one last time, and the writers indulge you.
Although I haven’t read much of John Irving’s work, Finny seemed evocative of Irving. When I met the author Justin Kramon at the Book Blogger Con reception, he verified that he did read and enjoy John Irving. I also told him that I thought it had the same delightful quirky feel as House of Tomorrow, which I also enjoyed (linked to my review), and I found out that the author Peter Bognanni was a class ahead of Kramon at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
I was delighted to have a chance to meet this first-time novelist and so I made an effort to read the book he had sent me before I met him in May, even though it didn’t release until July. I was about half through it, and already knew I loved it when I had the chance to talk to him. This is the kind of book that I wanted to talk about – not necessarily because of issues that beg to be discussed, but simply because I liked it so much. And since he was the only person I knew who had read the novel at that time, I loved sharing my thoughts with him.
This book releases on July 13. Look for it in bookstores, or preorder it now. To tell you how much I treasure it, I’ve already preordered a copy to replace the poor-quality early ARC I read. I hope that you’ll add this to your must-read summer list, or put it on your book club list for the fall. It’s one of the books that I’ve been most excited to share with others, and so it should be no surprise that I’ve added it to our 5 Star Reads list, which is where we spotlight the best of the best.
If you read it, come back here and tell me what you thought. I’d love to be able to discuss it with someone else who has read it. There are reading group discussion questions that would enrich any book club meeting.
Find out more about Justin Kramon at his website. You can also watch the book trailer, but I think that one reason I enjoyed the experience of this book so much is that I went in not knowing any details of the story at all. But if you want more specifics about the book, check it out.
Jennifer Donovan loves finding new authors and books that surprise and delight her. She blogs at Snapshot in an unsurprising and unremarkable way.