Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Book gushing over FINNY


It’s a really good and rare thing when you read the teaser of a book and think, “This will be amazing!” and then it actually lives up to the hype in your head and actually is amazing. That’s what happened with Justin Kramon’s debut novel, Finny.

Delphine “Finny” Short is a quirky, smart-alecky fourteen-year-old. And when I read in the teaser paragraph that this novel was going to follow this precocious character for twenty years of her life as she meets all kinds of eccentric, interesting characters, I said, “Ooooh, yes please!” because I love novels that follow a long period in a character’s life. As a teen, Finny gets a kick out of inciting a rise from her parents—a father who constantly quotes philosophers, writers, artists, and various other “Great Men,” and a mother who is super concerned with the public image of the Short family.

One day, Finny “runs away” but doesn’t get very far because she meets Earl, a boy who kind of ends up being a catalyst to the rest of Finny’s story. Once she meets Earl and his narcoleptic musician father, one event leads to another, introducing Finny to some interesting people and taking her far outside her rural Pennsylvanian town.

When you start reading a book that has just such an awesome premise and completely lovable, imperfect characters, you want to keep reading it forever. My go-to book with this description is Keith Maillard’s Gloria, a little-known masterpiece about a young woman navigating college and convention in the 1950s. And I love love love that book because it doesn’t matter what Gloria does—I still love her and sympathize with her and want to follow this character’s story until the day she dies. And Finny was kinda like this for me.

To make a great novel, though, there needs to be more than just an intriguing main character. Beyond this person, there needs to be a world that keeps both the character active, growing, and developing and keeps the reader entertained. The author built that for Finny, because as her world expanded, so did the reader’s. As Finny began boarding school and met her germaphobe dorm mother, Poplan, and her New York riche roommate, Judith, there was suddenly so much more potential to the story. Not that there wasn’t before—I just mean that as Kramon added characters and relationships, it just added layer upon layer of potential in the direction that Finny’s life would take. And as I’m already sucked into her world as she’s experiencing and questioning and developing as a person, that’s exactly what I want as a reader—to have no idea where this character is going to end up, but to love the journey so much that I don’t really care.

Kramon writes with purpose. From the succinct chapter titles that resemble elementary Reader titles (“Finny Meets a Boy”, “A Trip to the Principal’s Office”) to his poetic descriptions of inconsiderable emotions and moments, Kramon writes to paint a whole picture, to have you react to each supporting character as much as to Finny—good or bad, as long as you care. You get the impression from Kramon’s lovely descriptions that he really cares about this character he has created. And even if you don’t want it to end, or know how it will end, or, really, care how it all ends, you trust that he’ll let Finny end up okay.

Finny was released by Random House Paperbacks Tuesday, the 13th.
Review copy provided by the author.


WillLadislaw said…


I am currently reading (and loving) Finny! Anyone who is still on the fence should read an excerpt at

I enjoyed the review!

Booklineandsinker said…

this sounds perfect for my beach bag!!! i haven't heard of it, nor have i seen it until stopping by here. from your review, i can tell that you really enjoyed the character and the writing. i'm in the mood for something good, so thanks for the recommendation! 🙂

Kari said…

Thanks for posting the excerpt!

softdrink said…

I just started this book this morning and Finny is already cracking me up.