Tuesday, March 5, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Finding Out by Sheryn MacMunn

Title: Finding Out
Author: Sheryn MacMunn
Release Date:  Apr 7/2012
Adquired: Print copy provided by author
Goodreads: ADD

Getting dumped on the sidewalk by her live-in boyfriend of seven years and finding he nearly emptied their savings account is the first of Sheila Davenport's problems. At thirty-six, Sheila had thought her life was on track. Now she's saddled with a mortgage that is about to skyrocket, a psychotic boss, and she has to train someone who is unqualified and just doesn't care about the rules. Life no longer makes sense.Her friends advise her to date immediately, preferably someone rich and successful, or risk being old and alone. But Sheila's trying to figure out what went wrong and how she got to this place. Since Prince Charming has ruined Sheila's life, who can save her now?

Help comes unexpectedly from her elderly neighbor, Ruth Grey, who has had her own share of life's ups and downs. As their friendship grows, Ruth reveals a mesmerizing story of life in WWII Germany mixed with a tale of powerful love and revenge. Ruth's story provides the perspective that Sheila needs to put the pieces of her own life together. Will Sheila succeed at work or walk away? Can she save her home? And why do her friends think their lives are any better?

A story of love found and lost, true friendship, and how the human spirit endures, FINDING OUT is a gripping page-turner that pays homage to the greatest generation of our time.


“He’s with someone else.” Sheila couldn’t control the tears any longer. “His twenty-six year-old assistant!”

Sheila let it all out. She had stayed strong at work all week, been a good friend to Morgan, and exhausted herself in the process. Coming home alone every night with no one to talk to was hard. She was used to sharing her day with Joe and getting his advice. She didn’t know how to be single and she didn’t like it.

Ruth listened as Sheila poured her heart out. The poor girl was so upset. Ruth had never been a fan of Joe’s. He was polite enough but it was apparent to her anyway, that he would never commit. He didn’t have to. Sheila gave him everything he wanted and never asked for anything in return.

“Well, of course you’re upset, Sheila. He wasn’t forthright with his intentions and was really quite low to end things the way he did. But you have to keep living. Move on,” Ruth said.

“How? I haven’t been single since I was twenty-nine. I don’t even know how to date anymore.”

“Dating will come. Right now, you need to do something to make yourself happy. Create the best life possible,” Ruth said.

“How? Half of my life is gone.” Sheila wiped her eyes. “Have you ever felt like everything was just upside down?” Sheila looked past Ruth to the photos on the credenza. “You were married. You grew up with a close family. Can you imagine coming home and no one is there? It’s like someone vanished.”

Ruth smiled knowingly. “My life had ups and downs, I assure you.”

Ruth turned to look at the credenza full of items from her life. How she missed her family. Bill, her husband of forty years, most of all. That emptiness was almost all she had now. But she shook her head to push the memories away. This was about Sheila. Ruth knew she was suffering, yet in so many ways, she was better off. But who could tell Sheila that right now?

After a few moments of silence, Sheila looked at Ruth then followed her gaze.

“You have so many nice things.” Sheila’s eyes fell on a blue vase on the coffee table. “That is gorgeous.”

“Thank you. My grandmother gave it to my mother as a wedding gift. It’s my favorite thing in the world. I’ve been putting things in boxes, but I can’t bear to shut that away. I think beautiful things should be seen and touched. Though sometimes thinking of the past too much is like looking into the sun. It can hurt.” Ruth saw the confusion in Sheila’s face. “There were many dark times in my life. Some things I don’t care to remember, especially during the war.”

“Did your brothers fight in Germany?” Sheila asked.

“No.” Ruth smiled. “We were in Germany.”

“You mean after the war?” Sheila said.

“No, during. We went to visit my grandparents and had to stay.” Ruth rested her eyes on a photo of her with her parents and younger siblings. “That photo was taken right before we left for Germany. There were rumors of Hitler, but we didn’t know how bad it was.”

“How could you not know? Everyone knew, didn’t they?” Sheila asked.

“My dear, your education has been neglected.” Ruth smiled lovingly at the girl. “It was 1938. The government didn’t want to publish stories. Remember, we weren’t far along from the First World War.”

“No one in your family wrote?” Sheila asked.

“The mail was searched. Nothing could get through. Father did hear something, but the government didn’t confirm it, so we went.” Ruth shrugged.

“This is like a movie. How long were you there?”

“Seven years.” Ruth answered.

“Seven years? Why didn’t you leave?”

“My father was a scientist who had information that the Nazis wanted. We were held there.” Ruth said.

“Held? No one came to get you?” Sheila’s jaw dropped.

Ruth chuckled. “Who could come? The Nazis weren’t exactly letting people travel through Europe easily. Plus, we were hiding.”

“Hiding? You mean like Anne Frank?”

“Sort of.”

“Did you see soldiers and bombings?”

“Yes, I saw soldiers and bombings and things no one should see.” Ruth spoke sadly.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“No need to apologize.” Ruth shook her head. “People are titillated by the horrors of war but it's devastating. It's not something to be taken lightly. I haven't thought about the war in a long time.”

“I can’t believe you were in hiding though. You never mentioned it.”

“What good would it do? Living in the past can sometimes make things seem worse than they were. And it’s not healthy. Everyone today wants to talk about their past as if it’s the most fascinating thing. It’s not. The war happened. We got on,” Ruth said.

Sheila looked back at the picture of Ruth’s parents surrounded by seven children. “The baby was beautiful. Is that you?”

“No. That’s Annabelle. I’m the oldest, with the long hair. I was twelve.”

“You were adorable!” Sheila searched for a resemblance.

As Ruth looked at Sheila, she realized that Joe’s leaving had been the worst thing to happen in her young life. She truly didn’t know any other hardship. Sheila may not know how to move on, Ruth considered. Although Ruth didn’t like to talk about the past, she wondered if her friend might learn something from it.

“I tell you what. If you bring the tea to the coffee table, we’ll sit on my old red couch and I’ll tell you a little of what happened while we eat those cupcakes.”


Finding Out ended up being so much more than the standard "chick lit" I initially expected it to be. With vivid recounts of Nazi Germany, and characters that could very well exist in the real world, Sheryn created a story that made you want to invest your time in her words.

Following a humiliating public break-up with her boyfriend of the past 7 years (ouch, I know), Sheila Davenport is immediately thrown into a slump. She yearns for closure, but finds out the hard way that the only thing she actually needs is something that her ex-boyfriend, Joe, can't, and hasn't ever given her: a true sense of knowing herself, and solid, independent, happiness.

As with the majority of break-up situations in chick lit, the female character tends to set out on a self-destructing journey of wallowing, self-pity and incessant whining. Sheila dabbled in this phase, but I found that it was with good reason. Her ex refused contact with her, and I found myself getting just as agitated with him, the poor woman only wanted the answers she so rightly deserved. My fondness grew for Sheila the second she started meeting with Ruth, the elderly neighbour who eventually plays a huge role in Sheila's mental makeover. We don't get the chance to read much dialogue between the two, the author simply implies that the pair are together, which was indicated by Ruth's account of her experience in Nazi Germany. The chapters alternate between Sheila's personal life, and Ruth's memories, with a few present day chapters of Ruth's life thrown in. Finding Out didn't focus on the romance, which was SO refreshing. I am at a phase in my own life where I just want to skip the dramatics, and read about something real and meaningful-I got definitely got that with this book.

The alternating chapters really worked for me, we got a chance to not only see Sheila grow and strengthen, but it was as though she was doing it right along with Ruth's younger self, as she made her own discoveries all those years ago. There was a large bunch of side characters in Finding Out, some who played an important role in Sheila's life and her growth, and others I could have probably done without. The author wrote in third-person perspective, and I found myself getting slightly confused at times at who was thinking/doing what. Also, I wish we got to delve a little deeper into some of their personal lives, namely Alessandra, Sheila's boss. I was disturbingly fascinated with Alessandra's character, and I found myself hoping I'd turn a page, and find her entire past written there. Maybe..in the sequel!? =)

Overall, this Finding Out was a book of self-discovery and overcoming obstacles that only seem large on the outside. I got a chance to not only root for Sheila's success, but Ruth's as well, it was a feel good experience. This book is labeled chick-lit, but it did more for me than just pass the time, it was deep, and a little bit dark, and helped open my eyes to moments and issues that will always be so much bigger than my little mundane life and complaints. A very good debut for Sheryn, I am looking forward to the sequel of this book, and her other works in progress! 


What was your main inspiration for this book?

I realized that there weren’t any books that spoke to a single woman in her thirties who had to deal with life on her own. Most of the chick lit genre focused on younger women just figuring out the balance between relationships and career. However, my friends and I wanted to read stories about women at that middle point of a career when major decisions need to be made about moving up and the competition that exists. Also, we loved Sex and the City but the characters’ dating life wasn’t realistic. I didn’t know women who jumped from guy to guy in one week plus the advice they gave each other wasn’t very good. I decided to write a story about women who were experiencing life in a more realistic way and getting real help from friends. Finding Out came out of that premise.

Can you tell us something interesting you discovered while researching for this story?

Researching WWII was fascinating. I grew up with many great uncles who had fought in the war and shared their memories. However, for this story I needed to be sure that I knew the smallest facts to correctly represent the history of this tragic war. I went to lectures and heard survivors of WWII who had hidden in attics or had been sent to live with strangers so they could avoid being sent to concentration camps. Some never saw their families again. I also developed a timeline of events in Germany during the years 1938 – 1945 to make sure that I accurately represented what was happening to the Jews during that time. One example of a mistake that I avoided involved a scene where I had a man and his wife wearing the yellow Star of David in 1938. However, Jews in Germany weren’t required to wear the star until 1941. I was able to correct that mistake and others in the book.

The real payoff came when my 86 year old neighbor, Bunny, called me. She had read Finding Out and wanted to tell me how much she loved it and how the parts about Germany during WWII made her cry because they were so realistic. Also, it was interesting and unnerving to learn about the hierarchies in the concentration camps and how the women guards were given different instructions to handle the women prisoners. Some of these guards were quite vicious, which we seldom hear. In fact, some of the names of guards in Finding Out represent real women who were put on trial after WWII.

What was the biggest obstacle you met while writing Sheila's character?

Sheila definitely wouldn’t cooperate with me for some story lines. She wouldn’t date, she wouldn’t take advice from her co-workers. She was truly sad and stuck after the break up with Joe. I was in a writing course and shared with the teacher that my main character wouldn’t do what I wanted. I thought I was losing my mind (laugh). But the teacher said something that was to help me immensely as I wrote Finding Out. She said you can’t ask for anything more if a character won’t cooperate because it means the character is telling HER story and I just need to follow along. After that, writing the story became a lot of fun.

Which character would you say that you, as the author, most relate with?

I most relate with Sheila. I don’t have her problems but I really identify with her desire to handle her problems with dignity and to stop and think before jumping into another relationship. Her vulnerability made me want to protect her but like in life, sometimes you can’t protect people, and you can just be there for them. I also relate to the fact that Sheila is so drawn to Ruth and wants to be in her company because my grandmothers and my friend Ruth were always bedrock of support for me and they had the best stories from their younger days. Those women taught me a lot and I’m thankful that they were in my life. I miss them every day.

What does your next literary project entail?

I have four novels outlined right now which is exciting. My very next project is a sequel to Finding Out. So many people have written to me asking to know more about Ruth’s life and wanting answers to some of the mysteries in the novel. After really thinking it over and writing a few outlines, I decided that I would have that as my next project. So far, response from my inside circle has been very positive so I’m excited.


Sheryn MacMunn self-published her debut novel, Finding Out, in April 2012. It became an Amazon best-seller in two months, hitting the Contemporary Women and Contemporary Fiction list. FINDING OUT then hit best-seller status in the Single Women, Friendship, Romance, and Love & Romance categories as well.

In addition to being a self-published author, Sheryn works full-time in Mobile ad sales. Sheryn attended University of Massachusetts, Lowell and received her MBA from Simmons College School of Management. She now lives in Connecticut with her family.

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Thank-you to Samantha at CLP Blog Tours for hosting this tour, and to Sheryn for taking the time to send me a copy of her book, and do the interview!

CLICK HERE to follow the rest of the tour


  1. Thanks for being in the tour!

  2. I really enjoyed Finding Out. Thanks for this author interview - it's cool to hear Ms. MacMunn clarify something I liked so much about this book - the protagonist's dignity. After being totally humiliated by her boyfriend and mistreated by her boss and co-workers, Sheila manages to hold onto her self respect and (I thought) comes out of the whole mess showing not just strength but class. I miss that in a lot of contemporary fiction!

    1. I couldn't agree with you more, I feel like that is what's missing in all genres across the board these days: strong, and confident female leads. Or at least ones who can come out shining in the end. I've been reading about WAY too many whiny, self-deprecating female characters lately.

      I'm so glad I was able to help! Sheryn was amazing with her answers. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog =)

    2. My pleasure! Glad to have found it!

  3. Reeka, it's been a great experience and a lot of fun. Thank you for hosting me!

    1. The pleasure was all mine Sheryn, thank you for allowing me taking the time to do the interview, it's amazing!


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