Mcfly Posted on 1:00 am

The Tin Photo is a must.

  • Title: The Tin Photo
  • Author: Shae Bryant
  • Format: paperback
  • Publisher: not specified
  • Genres: historical fiction
  • Page #: 193 (copy from author) but goodreads says 175
  • Release date: April 20,2021
  • My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

*** This post may contain spoilers ***


Matko Zjdelar is a young immigrant arriving during an exciting time of change in the United States. When a heartbreaking event alters everything, a family secret is created and kept for nearly a century. The Tin Photo spans four generations of Americans as they discover their past and look to a future beyond Logan, West Virginia.

**** I was given a copy of this book by the author, but all opinions are my own. ****

My Review

When I was asked to review The Tin Photo back around it’s release date, I had no idea who Shae Bryant was or how incredible her writing was. All I had was an email from a self-proclaimed metalhead and a Goodreads page. I’m so thankful I decided to ignore my already to long TBR list and agreed to read this book. It took me 3 and a half days to finish The Tin Photo and for that I’m ashamed of myself. Back when I had time I would of completed this caliber of book in a day. I would love to claim it had only taken me a day to read. I was engrossed from the very beginning. The way this story is written and the characters you are introduced to are both profound.

Shae starts at the beginning, on the boat ride to America, You are deprived of almost every detail of their past and present. The only detail given in the whole book was that they came from a country in Eastern Europe, but never told which one, the only way to determine would be to research the family’s “old names” to see if you could narrow it down. But I got the impression based on their Americanized names that the names were chosen for religious context not cultural norms. That’s another thing Shae eludes to, religious persecution, but she never says what religion it is, and without a country or year offered your unable to determine that information either. But all the details lacking from their past are overshadowed by the details offered on everything else. It’s as if Shae Bryant didn’t want a mirky past to jade the readers perspective of the joy of Matko’s American future. So, while normally the complete lack of a past would be a negative for me Shae Bryant offered so many details about the hopes and dreams for their new lives in America, that I accepted the Della family’s lack of a past as a necessity for creating the joyous new start she wanted every reader to experience as they began their journey with Matko. There was no burden of past wrongs, it was just the sheer impact of a positive outlook on a future in America surrounded by your loved ones.

Shae creates a beautiful thing, a family full of love and happiness despite being the Great Depression, just to ripe what she’s created to shreds with one decision made while grieving. The secret created by this decision actually allows Matko’s hopes and desires for his children to come true in a way thats just a repeat of the books opening message. Acting as if he had never been a part of their story allows the past to continue to be forgotten only further in our aging the message that the past isn’t important, whats important is the future you have as an American.

In this story people who have immagrated to America see themselves as a different kind of American than an American who was born in America. This view of there being different types of Americans can cause interesting ideology about how a child should be raised. In this book being born American as opposed to being an immigrant is generally a good thing that and is something to be proud of because of what it suggests about how your childhood allows for future freedoms that won’t be given to others. Immagrants are protrayed as if the child’s heritage is different then the parents heritage simply because of what country they were born in. This view really got to me. I think it’s connected to the parents, denial of their past in another country. Im a natural born citizen and I was always taught that your heritage includes America but should not be limited to it. America as a nation, is much younger then other parts of The World and because of this is not as culturally developed as the older countries. Also for the average Americans their is a family member somewhere in time that was an immigrant to America, who may or may not have chosen to discard their heritage from the other country. What I’m trying to get at is America is a nation of immigrants and that as time has pasted our culture was created by combining the cultures of all those immigrants and that means our culture isn’t really ours it’s a mix from older cultures. So when a family denies their history and culture from before they came to America they aren’t allowing themselves to be a true American. I was taught that America was made of immigrants in school and this fact lead to the fact that most American custums were not started in America but brought into the country by immigrants, so by only showing someone American culture their not being given all the information. Learning about American culture needs to include which country gave us each custom so we can fully appreciate the variety and significants of what we experience in America. In other words the history of America is the history of The World so basically by denying your history your actually preventing yourself and your children from experiencing the real American life.

2 thoughts on “The Tin Photo is a must.

  1. Thank you very much for the review. I am so glad you enjoyed the book! I like your take at the end on what American culture means and what it means to you. This book was very close to me since it is the story of my Great Grandfather, Great Grandmother and Grandfather. To see someone enjoying that story and having an understanding of what it means to come from a background of various cultures made me very happy. Thank you again!

    They were Serbian, by the way. They spoke Serbian (Serbo-Croatian) and claimed a Serbian heritage. Today, their home cities are part of Kosovo and Croatia. At the time, the borders were very different.

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