AL SCHNUPP Latest Reviews--Kirkus and Book Viral

 
book-reviews genre family life fiction
 
GOODS & EFFECTS
Al Schnupp
Golden Antelope Press (176 pp.)
$14.59 paperback, $7.49 e-book
ISBN: 978-1-952232-55-8
May 29, 2021
KIRKUS REVIEW

A widow’s new business makes waves in a sleepy 1960s Missouri town in this novella.
 
Grieving the deaths of her two young sons and husband in a silo accident, 36-year-old Hannah Mercer sells the family farm and packs some furniture and her faithful dog, Five Paws, into an old delivery van to begin again. Despite her horrific losses, the goal isn’t Nomadland-style solitude but a store on wheels she names “Hannah’s Goods & Effects.” The shop becomes a fixture around her town of Adele, setting into motion Hannah’s unexpected odyssey of self-discovery, through which Schnupp deftly explores the complexities of religious life.
 
While she still wears a Mennonite head covering and forgoes makeup, Hannah quietly realizes that her faith is changing, even deconstructing. The lives of her intriguing customers and helpers are also transforming. For Darla Leichty, a young deaf girl with incredible artistic talent, her rides with Hannah provide endless people-watching for sketches. Even Naomi, wife of the town’s cold Mennonite church deacon, Eli Stahl, can’t resist doing a bit of shopping—unearthing a buried rebellious streak.
 
Hannah also forges a friendship with LeRoy Williams, the Black man who purchased her farm but dreams of a music career. When racist townspeople target LeRoy and his family, Hannah is determined to act and enlists some friends in a plan that’s part bitter comedy, part justice. Meanwhile, the townsfolk love to speculate about whether she’ll remarry. Although helpful bachelor Nathan Proctor seems the obvious choice, Darla quickly sees that Frank Paulson, Hannah’s married former neighbor, carries a torch for the widow.
 
Schnupp, a playwright and retired professor of theater at California Polytechnic State
University, San Luis Obispo, originally conceived this tale as a screenplay, and it shows in his natural-sounding dialogue and his strong ability to set a scene. The page-turning quality only wanes in the book’s second half, as the author shifts the focus to Darla, now a young woman, and tries to tie up too many loose ends at once. Hannah’s sympathetic attitudes toward topics still controversial in certain pockets of Christianity, like abortion and sexuality, are uplifting but may strike some readers as unrealistic. That said, this enjoyable story featuring the appealing Hannah deserves a wide audience and a film or stage adaptation.

An engaging tale about a spirited woman’s compelling journey.
 
 
 

Family Life Fiction At Its Best From Al Schnupp

 

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SUMMARY: Devastated by the death of her husband and sons, Hannah Mercer sells the family farm in this family life fiction and creates a store and living quarters in a delivery truck. As she travels several circuits selling her wares, Hannah becomes the heart of a network of interlinking lives

The BookViral Review:

A thoughtful exploration of hope and expectations in the 60’s Goods and Effects certainly isn’t an archetypal tale of love, loss and family life as Schnupp presents his readers with notably nuanced characters, authentic backgrounds and intriguing stories to tell.

There’s real soul to this family life story as he beautifully renders the sights and sounds of a bygone era. All meticulously observed as he explores the veracities of love, family, calamity and infidelity during a period of turbulent change and beyond in Hannah’s life.

Schnupp’s writing is light and easy to read, his plot clear and a pleasure to follow, but what sets his novel apart is a clear understanding of how family dynamics, in their differing guises, shape our years, with character development at the heart of his narrative.

To this end, Schnupp gives us wholly endearing characters that exude strength of personality and purpose. Each memorable for the lives they have led and the unspoken truths they have harboured with any tendency towards the maudlin tempered by Schnupp’s ability to maintain a fine balance between empathy and levity.

It’s a masterful telling that exudes insight, challenging those fears we all invariably come to dwell upon. Leading to the realisation that our relationships are ultimately defined by the choices we make. Hannah could be any one of us and in her, we find a life-affirming quality and a celebration of fearlessness that has become far too rare.

There are parts of Goods and Effects that are heart-achingly sad, but Schnupp is ever mindful to keep a kernel of hope alive. Reminding us of the different spheres we inhabit as our lives evolve and not to take any given day for granted. Which for many readers is sure to provoke much in the way of reflection.

A timeless telling with all the hallmarks of a classic, Goods and Effects is nothing short of superb and is recommended without reservation.