All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews is a frank, semi-autobiographical story examining sisterhood, complicated relationships, existential depression, and the lengths we will go in order to save someone we love. Toews manages to portray family tragedy in a realistic yet strangely uplifting way. Her ability to focus on the small details with clarity and humor is a reminder that even in the face of unspeakable grief, life does indeed go on. Recommended By Jen C., Powells.com
All My Puny Sorrows has a force that pulls you into the story and immerses you so completely that it's difficult to put the book down. Yoli's voice is honest and raw, telling Toews's semi-autobiographical story of heartbreak and loss, but her sharp wit helps take the edge off the pain. You will appreciate every page of this unforgettable novel. Recommended By Kim S., Powells.com
Sisters: this relationship is so very complicated — so fraught with missteps. Elf and Yoli are opposites, and while their bond is strong, it's not quite strong enough to keep Elf from continuously contemplating suicide. Yoli has tried everything to maintain the thin grasp she has on her sister. Somewhere along the way, Yoli realizes there is much she would do for Elf, even some things she never thought she could. This is a story of family dynamics, family dysfunction, and family love. Toews, an exceptional writer, bases the story on her own experiences with her sister, and she manages to truly capture this complicated relationship. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Elf and Yoli are sisters. While on the surface Elfrieda's life is enviable (she's a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, and happily married) and Yolandi's a mess (she's divorced and broke, with two teenagers growing up too quickly), they are fiercely close raised in a Mennonite household and sharing the hardship of Elf's desire to end her life. After Elf's latest attempt, Yoli must quickly determine how to keep her family from falling apart, how to keep her own heart from breaking, and what it means to love someone who wants to die.
All My Puny Sorrows is the latest novel from Miriam Toews, one of Canada's most beloved authors not only because her work is rich with deep human feeling and compassion but because her observations are knife-sharp and her books wickedly funny. And this is Toews at her finest: a story that is as much a comedy as it is a tragedy, a goodbye grin from the friend who taught you how to live.
"Toews is an extraordinarily gifted writer, with unsentimental compassion for her people and an honest understanding of their past, the tectonic shifts of their present and variables of their future.” The Globe and Mail
"Toews is a writer of considerable subtlety and grace, with a gift for bringing flashes of lightness, even humor, to the darkest of tales." The Millions
"[A] masterful, original investigation into love, loss and survival." Kirkus (Starred)
"Toews writes with a sharp and piercing eye, offering characters and descriptions which are so odd and yet so spot-on that the reader has to laugh, albeit reluctantly." Booklist
"A touching tribute and a captivating novel." BUST
"It requires a talented author to take a serious subject and write such an engaging, enjoyable work." Library Journal (Starred)
"Touching and unexpectedly humorous." Marie Claire
About the Author
is the author of five previous novels: Summer of My Amazing Luck
, A Boy of Good Breeding
, A Complicated Kindness
, The Flying Troutmans
, and Irma Voth
, and one work of nonfiction, Swing Low: A Life
. She lives in Toronto.