Completed on: March 28, 2016
Review Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed By Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers’ Favorite
Reviewed By: Liz Konkel
Review Rating: 5 Stars
January 7, 2018
Reviewed By Liz Konkel for Readers’ Favorite
The Finest Hat in the Whole World by Colleen A. Parkinson follows a family's journey through the years 1917-1937, from the Great War to the Great Depression. Des Stewart is the
responsible member of his family, having never married or left home and devoting his life to caring for his younger sister and ailing mother. Both of his brothers lead opposite lives with
fractured marriages and children. His family has been haunted by a past of death, guilt, and secrets. All of this changes for Des when his older brother insists he take in nine-year-old
Phena after her parents tire of her insolent behavior. As Des tries to steer Phena onto the right path, their unbreakable bond ends up saving them both.
Though the events take place during significant time periods such as the Great Depression and the flu pandemic, the story primarily remains focused on the characters and leaves most of the historical context largely in the background. Redemption is a key factor in several of the characters' lives. Des finds his second chance in life when he gets custody of Phena. He finds fulfillment in his life by giving her a better chance at a future. She's a spit-fire, attacking when she feels attacked, and calling out what she finds to be wrong, but her second chance with Des makes her a stronger character. He teaches her kindness and forgiveness, and gives her a real chance at a happy life. The characters are deeply flawed, but very real with some redeeming themselves along the way while others don't change at all.
The most shocking change is found in Des's younger brother's journey from a drunk bored with his marriage after week two to someone who has some redeeming qualities. Phena has the most significant change as she experiences a coming of age journey going from childhood to adulthood. Colleen A. Parkinson writes a realistic and human story about family and second chances. There's a lot of tragedy, but also a lot of heart as this family may be estranged, but love is still there. Secrets are revealed in this emotional read about how a fractured family becomes whole. The Finest Hat in the Whole World is a story of past regrets and second chances in a journey of love and loss.
Reviewed By Arya Fomonyuy for Readers’ Favorite
The Finest Hat in the Whole World by Colleen A. Parkinson is a captivating story with emotional and psychological depths, a story that looks at the drama in a troubled family. Colleen A. Parkinson creates a story that is both inspirational and motivational, a story that excellently showcases the themes of personal development, despair and hope, family, and what it takes to create meaning. I loved the characters and the fact that they are created to be so human. The setting is wonderful, a historical period dominated by war, the Depression, and other social ills. Desmond Stewart seems to be a symbol of that age. The writing is beautiful and evocative, featuring very insightful and colorful passages, and descriptions that succinctly capture the state of mind of the characters and the seasons of their souls. Well-paced and gripping, The Finest Hat in the Whole World will have readers crying and laughing, feeling utterly entertained and connected with the compelling characters.
Reviewed By Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite
The Finest Hat in the Whole World by Colleen A. Parkinson is one of those novels that you love on sight.
This is definitely one of the most endearing novels I have ever read. Colleen A. Parkinson’s writing style is very contemporary and a lot like Harper Lee and Mat Johnson! Both of them are gems of contemporary literature and I believe Parkinson has the talent to be named among such a skilled group of writers. Des’s character is very relatable. We all have insecurities and we all are looking for that chance to help us find ourselves. Des is endearing and his relationship with Phena is just incredible. She is the light of his life and he is hers. I simply loved this novel and I could not have wished for a better written novel.
Reviewed By Divine Zape for Readers’ Favorite
The Finest Hat in the Whole World by Colleen A. Parkinson is a riveting story that explores the themes of family, secrets, personal development, coming of age, and redemption.
This lyrical, well-told story starts with a powerful line: “Secrets are like moonlight obscured by fog.” The author immediately pulls the reader into the consciousness of the main character, allowing the reader a glimpse into the darkness within him. Colleen A. Parkinson recreates the drama taking place in many troubled homes and she does so with ingenuity and a rare knack for creativity. The story reads so realistically that any reader can relate to it. I enjoyed the characters; they are compelling, each with a burden to carry, and seeing how they evolve throughout the story will be a huge delight to readers. The historical references are masterfully used to add color to the already beautiful setting. The Finest Hat in the Whole World is a title that elicits curiosity, a story that will entertain readers and have them turning the pages, longing to understand the bond between uncle and niece and what becomes of them. It’s a beautifully imagined story told by a masterly hand..
Reviewed By Sefina Hawke for Readers’ Favorite
The Finest Hat in the Whole World by Colleen A. Parkinson is a well-written piece of fiction with wonderful use of figurative language. The author did a spectacular job in creating a clear picture of both the characters and the setting in my head. Young Phena quickly became my favorite character; I just loved how realistically she was written. I really loved how Des managed to pull himself out of his depression and loneliness in order to be the adult that Phena desperately needed. This book really touched my heart because I could truly understand the burden Des felt when he gave up on his own life to help his mother, and the way that influenced his own life.
Reviewed by Sarah Stuart for Readers' Favorite
I absolutely loved The Finest Hat in the Whole World. Colleen A. Parkinson has created an extended family who truly step off the pages and live. The result is a character-driven story that makes the reader feel love, hate, sympathy, joy, despair, the power of Our Lord… every emotion that exists: for me, that is the mark of a very talented author. Also, it demonstrates Ms. Parkinson’s deep understanding of human nature and memories of childhood.
Sefina Hawke for Readers’ Favorite: “This book really touched my heart…”
Divine Zape for Readers’ Favorite: “…a story that will entertain readers and have them turning the pages.”
Arya Fomonyuy for Readers’ Favorite: “The writing is beautiful and evocative, featuring very insightful and colorful passages, and descriptions that succinctly capture the state of mind of the characters and the seasons of their souls. ...well-paced and gripping, The Finest Hat in the Whole will have readers crying and laughing, feeling utterly entertained and connected with the compelling characters.”
Rabia Tanveer“This is definitely one of the most endearing novels I have ever read.”
Liz Konkel "...a realistic and human story about family and second chances."
Joel Dennstedt "...masterpiece of writing."
Sarah Stuart "...an extended family who truly step off the pages and live."