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Book review: Milne's 'The Winner's Game' shares family's struggle to learn what is truly important

Published: Saturday, March 1 2014 3:45 p.m. MST

"Winner's Game" is by Kevin Alan Milne. (Hachette Book Group)

"THE WINNER'S GAME," by Kevin Alan Milne, Center Street, $15, 384 pages (f)

“The Winner's Game” by Kevin Alan Milne surpasses his earlier novels in its ability to inspire, uplift and entertain. Through his characters' relationships and experiences, he touches on topics ranging from family, marriage and divorce to aging, illness and death.

The story revolves around the Bennett family. The family’s oldest daughter, Ann, has been diagnosed with a serious heart condition and needs a heart transplant to survive. The financial, physical and emotional stresses associated with her illness have strained the Bennett family almost to its breaking point.

In an effort to save their family and their marriage, Dell and Emily Bennett take the family to a beach house on the Oregon coast for summer vacation. Unfortunately, the change of scenery does little to help. The children bicker, and the parents rarely speak to each other. For a time, it seems the Bennett family's only mode of communication is arguing.

However, while reading her grandmother’s old journals, Emily stumbles upon the Winner’s Game. As she learns about the game and how playing it helped her grandparents, she begins to believe it can help her family, too.

“The Winner's Game” is written in first person present tense from multiple perspectives. Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of a different character. This gives insight into the characters and offers readers a way to relate to and empathize with the family and become invested in its members' lives, successes and failures.

While Milne touches on issues such as divorce, death and organ donation, he does so with subtlety and sensitivity. The book has no profanity or graphic descriptions of these or any other issues.

“The Winner's Game” is a beautifully written, enjoyable and inspiring book about what it means to love one another and be a family. Within its pages, Milne skillfully weaves an intricate, heartwarming story that will leave readers feeling better for having read it.

Sandra Nazar lives, writes and blogs in Oklahoma with her husband and five children. She blogs at www.sincerelysandra.net.

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