Review: The Tin Box by Holly Kennedy
Every so often I will take a break from reviewing new and upcoming releases and browse through the titles in our stacks to discover something that I had read about and stocked for our store, but not personally read myself. Sometimes these discoveries turn out to be interesting finds. Some quite enjoyable, others merely a pleasant diversion. Every once in awhile I stumble across an undiscovered gem. One that absolutely takes my breath away and touches a place in my heart I know I’ll never forget. The Tin Box is such a gem.
Released in 2005 to critical acclaim, The Tin Box tells the story of friendship, love, regret, guilt, loss and most of all courage. The main focus of the story is that of a young girl, Kenly, who has lost her mother and is living a nomadic existence with her father. Her father, who makes his living as a teacher, has become so riddled with guilt and grief since the death of Kenly’s mother and his accompanying refuge in liquor that Kenly has become a self-sufficient, jaded beyond her years teenager by the time they settle in the little town of Athabasca in Canada.
When they arrive in Athabasca, Kenly considers it just another stepping stone, no more a home then any of the other towns they’ve drifted through over the last several years. That attitude begins to change when Kenly begins to know and become a part of a small circle of special people who will become a large part of her life for years to come. Most notable among that circle is a young man named Tommy Naylor. Tommy, wise beyond his years, is a beautiful soul trapped in a disfigured body by a debilitating disease. It is Tommy’s ability to seize the best things in life and focus on those instead of the bad things that gives Kenly a new perspective on life. It is Tommy who gives her the courage to hope and dream. He is also the person who gives her an important piece of advice, advice that will carry her through some of the harshest, most grueling moments of her life : “…the things that matter most in our lives should fit inside a tin box, and if they don’t, they aren’t as important as we think they are.”
While Kenly and her story is the focus of The Tin Box, it is Tommy who takes your breath away with his quiet strength and giving, self-sacrificing soul. He is living testimony to the meaningless of outward appearances, as well as greatness we are all capable of when we try. You will come to love all the characters Holly Kennedy has created for The Tin Box, but it’s Tommy you will yearn to have as a friend, and his spirit that will touch you in unforgettable ways.
The Tin Box had earned itself a space on my personal shelf of favorites. That shelf reserved for books that have touched me deeply and moved me in indescribable ways. Books that will stay with me, their characters living on in my memory long after I’ve turned the final page. Brava to Holly Kennedy for writing a wonderfully touching and timeless story. I’m so glad I finally stumbled across this gem and was able to share it with the rest of you.
Review by Brenda Seward
The Tin Box by Holly Kennedy, released by Forge Books, Tom Dougherty Assoc.
More about the author and her work can be found on her website: www.hollykennedy.com
Available through Simple Pleasures Books @ http://spbooks.alibrisstore.com/
and other Independent Bookstores and retailers.